STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that. Dr. John W. Tunnell Jr. of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas and Dr. Ernesto A. Chávez of Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico will receive a first place Gulf Guardian Award for 2008 in the Bi-national Category, for co-authoring a comprehensive book entitled, “Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico.
This book has clearly raised international awareness of the importance of coral reefs and their plight, with special reference to the Southern Gulf of Mexico. The 2008 Gulf Guardian awards hold a special significance this year as they will be awarded in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Program’s 20th Anniversary Celebration! (1988-2008). The awards ceremony will be held on October 29, 2008 beginning at approximately 6 p.m. at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, Versailles Ballroom in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The purpose of “Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico” was to synthesize and chronicle the knowledge on the coral reefs of the southern Gulf of Mexico, which appears in several languages and spans over 100 years. Major topics of include history of research, distribution, origin and development, climate and oceanography, biota of reefs and associated islands, ecology, natural and anthropogenic impacts, information gaps, and conservation and management. Coral Reefs are at risk from coastal pollution, overfishing, hurricanes and storms, episodes of warmer than usual temperature and outbreaks of disease. Coral reefs declined worldwide during the 1980s and 1990s, making them perhaps the most endangered marine ecosystem on Earth. This realization stimulated John W. Tunnel Jr. and Ernesto A. Chávez the desire to write a comprehensive book that would raise awareness of coral reefs and their plight, presenting an integrated and broad-ranging synthesis, while Mexican and US experts assess the current state of these fragile ecosystems and offer a framework for their restoration.
The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. A first, second, and third place award are given each year in seven categories – individual, business, youth and education, nonprofit organizations, government, partnership and bi-national efforts.
“Gulf Guardian award winners represent the very best in efforts to ensure the Gulf of Mexico region remains a place where people, industry, and the environment can continue to thrive,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “Their accomplishments are making a positive difference for everyone, and EPA is pleased to recognize their environmental leadership.”
The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development and is proud to be celebrating 20 years of successful partnerships to protect the Gulf of Mexico.
Bryon Griffith, Director of the Gulf of Mexico Program said “After 9 years of conducting the Gulf Guardian Awards Program, I never cease to be amazed by the quality and depth of environmental accomplishments across the Gulf of Mexico region. The 2008 award winners will play an important part of the Gulf of Mexico Program’s 20th anniversary celebration. (1988-2008) These special winners proudly illustrate for all of us what committed citizens, communities, governments, and businesses that share a common vision can do to improve, protect, and sustain our regional and national treasure, the Gulf of Mexico.”
For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2008, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button.