BP settlement called 'good day' for Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

BP settlement called 'good day' for Mississippi

Howard Page with the Steps Coalition said one focus of the group will remain standing up for fishermen.  (Photo source: WLOX) Howard Page with the Steps Coalition said one focus of the group will remain standing up for fishermen. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

With the BP settlement now finalized, work can proceed on restoring the Gulf waters. It's a long term project that affects both the environment and the economy.

WLOX News spoke with both a scientist and a representative from a community action group that's advocated on behalf of oil spill victims. Both called news of the settlement, "a good day for Mississippi."

While scientists have studied the impact of the oil spill over the past five years, leaders in the State of Mississippi, from the governor's office to DEQ to DMR, have been busy laying the groundwork for restoring the Gulf.

"Those of us in the scientific community have been very pleased with this. And they're covering restoration top to bottom. From the watersheds, out into the coastal, and then cooperating with the feds who are more interested in the offshore. So, restoration is going to take a lot of forms," said Dr. Monty Graham, the interim director at USM’s Gulf Coast Research Lab.

One project touted early and often involves restoring oyster reefs in Mississippi. Dr. Graham said that's a worthy investment that reaches far beyond future oyster harvests.

"It's also the habitat. You're going to see so many sort of positive by products of rebuilding reefs around the state and coastal waters. It's habitat for fish, habitat for the food that fish eat. It runs the whole spectrum," Dr. Graham explained.

Accountability for future spending of the BP dollars is one area where the Steps Coalition will continue to play an active role.

"We definitely want to see this put toward the important goals, which are restoring our natural resources and improving our water quality. The things that are going to help bring back the tourist industry and going to help our fishermen. And also we want to see this spent in a way that will create good jobs for Mississippians," said Howard Page, with the Steps Coalition.

Page said one focus of the group will remain standing up for fishermen.  And not just commercial.

"We have charter fishermen, we have shrimpers, we have oystermen, we have crabbers. We have hook and line guys that catch all kinds of fish. So yeah, restoring those industries. That's our history. That's our heritage," he said.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved. 

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