TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A team of researchers from The Florida State University, Duke University and the National Marine Fisheries Service will study the environmental and economic impacts of the vast "dead zone" in the northern Gulf of Mexico on shrimping in the region, home to one of the nation's most highly valued single-species fisheries.
Florida State will serve as the lead institution for the collaborative project, which is funded by a four-year, $702,969 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem and Hypoxia Assessment Program.
Dead zones result from hypoxia (low oxygen) caused by algal blooms, which deplete the oxygen in water and render it unable to sustain animal life -- a potentially catastrophic issue for the Gulf shrimping industry, estimated to be worth about $500 million annually. The Gulf of Mexico's increasingly severe dead zone is one of the world's two or three largest and the biggest one that affects a U.S. fishery. It forms in the late spring and summer off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas, covers between 7,500 and 8,500 square miles -- roughly the size of New Jersey -- and in some years stretches over nearly 12,500 square miles.
"Previous studies of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico have linked it to nutrient-rich runoff that fuels the algal blooms," said marine ecologist Kevin Craig, a faculty member at The Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory <http://www.marinelab.fsu.edu/> and a principal investigator for the study.
"Most of the nutrients seem to come from agricultural activities in the Mississippi River watershed, which drains 41 percent of the continental United States and includes major farming states in the Midwest," Craig said. "Our research team intends to more effectively assess the likely effects of nutrient loading and hypoxia on fisheries, the associated economic cost
|Contact: Kevin Craig|
Florida State University