Socioeconomic Impacts of Restoration

Full Title: Integrating socioeconomic impacts into fisheries restoration decisions

This project will scope and design socioeconomic research to inform restoration planning decisions made for pollution incidents in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sunlight illuminates a lingering oil slick off the Mississippi Delta after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Photo credit: NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Lead Investigator: Lydia Olander, Nicholas Institute, Duke University, lydia.olander@duke.edu

Natural Resource Manager: John W. Barco, NOAA Office for Habitat Conservation, Restoration Division

Project Team: David Yoskowitz (Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi); Alejandra Mickle, Jeff Smith, and Kristen Kaufman (NOAA Office for Habitat Conservation, Restoration Division); and Travis Grout (ERT, Inc., in support of NOAA Office for Habitat Conservation)

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (frank.parker@noaa.gov)

Award Amount: $121,735

Award Period: This project began in September 2021 and will end in August 2022.

Why it matters: When an oil spill or hazardous waste release occurs, it can injure fish populations that are targeted by recreational and subsistence fishers. Parties responsible for these incidents can be held accountable for natural resource injuries and the lost use of the injured resources. The Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program (DARRP) team at NOAA works to assess and restore natural resources after oil spills, ship groundings, and hazardous waste releases. To effectively describe injuries that result from pollution incidents and address them through restoration, DARRP experts need to understand impacts on injured fish and their supporting habitats, who targets the fish for recreational and subsistence purposes, and the value local fishers place on those fish. The team will also enhance their understanding of the ecosystem services provided by nearshore essential fish habitat to better assess damages.

What the team is doing: First, relevant research and management literature will be reviewed and discussed to build a stronger shared understanding of decisions and assist in refining research questions. A workshop with DARRP stakeholders and modeling experts will be held to discuss research gaps and develop credible methods. The team will work with DARRP experts, NOAA guidance documents, and literature to ensure feasibility, laying the groundwork for designing future research. The steering committee, DARRP stakeholders, and other key experts will participate in a series of workshops, building on the results of the previous steps to co-develop an R&D Plan.

Expected outcome: Recommendations for case-specific decisions and program level decision-making guidance for DARRP will be co-developed using science implementation actions. An Application Plan that includes goals, milestones, participants, and budget will be developed. This Application Plan will describe the tools developed during this project and how they 1) can improve injury assessments and restoration planning decisions, 2) should be applied, step by step, in the context of a DARRP case, and 3) fit into broader DARRP case management and decision-making processes.