Governor Bryant creates intra-agency to monitor effects of Bonnet Carre Spillway

Governor Bryant creates intra-agency to monitor effects of Bonnet Carre Spillway
The alarming number of dead animals on Mississippi beaches continues growing. The latest figures show 114 dolphins and 145 turtles have washed ashore dead on the Mississippi coastal beaches so far this year. (Source: WLOX)

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Governor Phil Bryant created an intra-agency and university task force to monitor environmental conditions and to measure the impacts on marine species in the Mississippi Sound after the second opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

The intra-agency and task force consists of The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR), Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the USM Gulf Coast Research Lab, Mississippi State University (MSU), and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS).

“Last week I sent a letter to the Department of Commerce requesting that Secretary Ross issue a federal fisheries disaster declaration for Mississippi due to the Bonnet Carré Spillway opening. I am deeply concerned over the influx of fresh water into the Mississippi Sound and the adverse effects it is having on our marine resources. I appreciate the Department of Marine Resources and the University of Southern Mississippi coordination of this important effort and all that they do to protect and preserve our marine resources.”
Governor Phil Bryant

MDMR is currently monitoring the impacts of the spillway on the fisheries in Mississippi. Scientists are using fishery independent methods to sample oyster reefs, shrimp, crabs and finfish while increasing the number of water sampling locations and expanding the collection of hydrological parameters, such as water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and turbidity to accurately report current conditions. Furthermore, commercial landings data are also being evaluated monthly for any trends which may indicate that the spillway is having a direct effect on specific species.

IMMS, MDMR and the MSU Department of Veterinary College are monitoring the increased number of stranded or deceased dolphins and sea turtles being reported in the Mississippi Sound to determine potential causes. MDEQ will continue to perform water quality analysis on public beaches to ensure it is safe for human contact and recreation.

“I believe it is important for the task force to collect the necessary data to accurately assess the impacts of the spillway on our natural resources,” said Joe Spraggins, MDMR Executive Director. “We want the public to be informed about what is happening in the Mississippi Sound.”

The task force reports to the governor weekly and will provide science-based facts to the media about water quality, water quantity, seafood and safety risk to humans who come in contact with water from the Mississippi Sound.

Copyright 2019 WLOX. All rights reserved.