Mississippi Sound Coalition seeks community support over diversion projects
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The message is getting louder and spreading.
The Mississippi Sound Coalition is now reaching out to the community for support.
On Thursday, the message came to the Gulfport Rotary Club.
“It is an existential threat to our marine resources and our economy,” said Dr. Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. “And I think having the grass-roots support, especially from the movers and shakers of our community, would be very helpful to make these political decisions that are necessary.”
In January, a federal court ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has to consider the harm a spillway opening will do to marine nurseries, and that requires consultation with fishery experts through NOAA.
However, that just opens a door that could close quickly if political willpower isn’t there, and the community is buying in.
“You know, anything that I could do to support the fact that we could protect our local businesses and the seafood quality is what I’d be interested in doing,” said Rotary Club board member Ellis Hill.
Club member Brian Bolis is all in.
“I think it has to be an absolute full-court press on it with the community this is affecting our industry - shrimp, oysters - which is a mainstay of our community, and we should be behind this and try to make sure that they never get to do that again,” he said.
In the meantime, the coalition is already preparing for another battlefront: the planned Mid-Breton Sediment Diversion.
A new hydrological study through the Department of Marine Resources, University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State University shows significant impacts on the Mississippi Sound.
“I think they would be wanting to look at this very hard because it is not favorable for the Gulf of Mexico,” said DMR Executive Director Joe Spraggins. “I can tell you it would get the salinity down to less than five parts per thousand in about 100 days.”
A biological study by the same group of scientists has just been sent for PEER review and will be presented to the Coalition when completed.
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