Will BP’s Fines Help Dolphins in the Gulf?Bottlenose dolphins are dying in unprecedented numbers in the region affected by the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Dolphins in the most heavily oiled areas are suffering from anemia, painful damage to their lungs and livers, and low hormone levels—symptoms that may be have been caused by oil exposure.
Dead bottlenose dolphins continue to wash up on shores along the Gulf of Mexico and populations living closest to the oil spill were hit particularly hard. In fact, a study of dolphins off the coast of Louisiana concluded that the survival prospect for many is grim. And sadly, stillborn bottlenose dolphins have been found at nearly four times historical rates during just the first four months of this year.
BP’s Fines Should Restore the Environmental Health of the Gulf
Just last week, the trial to determine how much BP will pay in fines for damages caused by the oil spill resumed in federal court. The dolphins’ recovery depends on those fines and penalties being used to restore the ecosystem and habitats where they live!
It’s not only critical that BP be forced to pay fines that reflect the full magnitude of the damage done to wildlife in the Gulf, but also that the money goes toward restoring the Gulf of Mexico’s delicate ecosystem.
For dolphins to recover, environmental restoration must happen along the shorelines and beaches, in the wetlands and estuaries, and even in rivers and streams that feed the Gulf. We need to make sure the money is not used to subsidize coastal development that could cause further damage to habitats for dolphins and other species, such as the blue crab, that are part of the complex food chain in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Secretary of Commerce can make sure fines that BP pays for the disastrous spill go towards restoring the dolphins’ habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. But if public pressure isn’t put on the Commerce Department now, BP’s penalties may not be used to restore habitat for dolphins and other wildlife. Even worse, some of the funds could be used on projects that could actually harm the Gulf ecosystem, like new highway and dredging projects and port expansions.
It is crucial to make our voices heard as decisions are already being made about where and how the BP restoration money will be spent.