Two day Bays & Bayous symposium underway in Biloxi - - The News for South Mississippi

Two day Bays & Bayous symposium underway in Biloxi

Several hundred scientists, educators and students are attending the Bays and Bayous symposium in Biloxi. Several hundred scientists, educators and students are attending the Bays and Bayous symposium in Biloxi.

Marine resources along coastal Mississippi and Alabama are the focus of a two day conference in Biloxi. The Bays and Bayous symposium began Wednesday morning at the coliseum convention center.

"We've recognized the importance of the Gulf of Mexico on our life, our economy. And we recognize how important it is. Sometimes those things get overlooked," said state senator Brice Wiggins, who delivered opening remarks at the conference.

The health of the Gulf of Mexico and other marine resources are a big part of the Bays and Bayous symposium. Hundreds of scientists, educators and students will network, learn and share information during a series of seminars.

"Our eco systems have problems. But I do think that we have to be positive. We have a lot of bright people in this room. A lot of people doing a lot of different things to try to solve some of those problems. And I think that's what Bays and Bayous helps do," said LaDon Swann, who directs the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the group hosting the symposium.

Assigning a value to marine and coastal eco systems was the subject of the opening session. An economist spoke about the connection between the environment and our human well being.

"Our next door neighbors that go to the beach, do they really understand or really care about what oysters do in terms of clearing up the water? No. They're really more concerned that they have clear or clean water to swim in or fish in. That's what they connect to," said David Yoskowitz, who works at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

He said the value of eco services must be a part of any decision making that affects the environment. And government leaders are recognizing that.

"Most policy makers would agree that when it comes down to decisions and you're weighing benefits and costs, and there's dollars on the line, the environment needs to have a voice in that decision," explained Yoskowitz.

"Certainly shucking an oyster, picking a blue crab. All those are fisheries related. We can't have fisheries unless we have good management and a lot of good habitat. Clean water. You know, swimming. We can't have tourism," said Swann.

Many of the people responsible for helping manage those marine resources are a part of this two day conference.

Several topics related to the BP oil spill are included in the conference agenda. Those include ongoing scientific studies about the long term impact of the spill, along with restoration plans and projects.

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