Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) for Marine Mammals in the Gulf of Mexico
JUNE 14, 2021 ─ Scientists from OR&R’s Assessment and Restoration Division and NOAA Fisheries Protected Resources programs, in collaboration with our partners from the Coastal Response Research Center, led a virtual workshop to discuss ways to approach Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) for marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Workshop attendees included staff from NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program, OR&R’s Emergency Response Division, and NOAA marine mammal scientists and managers from the Office of Protected Resources, Southeast Regional Office, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and other NOAA participants.
Oil spills are significant threats to marine mammals and recent studies from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have highlighted the sensitivity of marine mammals to oil; however, assessing impacts of oil spills to marine mammals has been infrequent and challenging. The workshop used oil spill scenarios to drive discussions on approaches, methods, and limitations to conducting NRDA or marine mammals in both the coastal and offshore habitats of the Gulf of Mexico, and included panels on real world scenarios and technological innovations in marine mammal research. The workshop discussions on these scenarios, as well as the follow up discussions on challenges, strategies, and data gaps, will improve NOAA preparedness for future incidents.
The nine-hour workshop was held in three 3-hour sessions, over consecutive days. The first session was kicked off on June 7. This workshop followed one held last month for the Alaska Region. OR&R’s Assessment and Restoration Division is planning to host similar workshops in other NOAA regions in the near future.