It's official: NOAA – along with federal and state partners – has announced its intent to conduct restoration planning under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater BP oil spill. This means that much of the initial pre-assessment has occurred, and we are now shifting our focus to assessing the nature and amount of impacts to natural resources, and develop a restoration plan.

“Our early analysis has documented clear detrimental effects to animals and habitats in the Gulf ecosystem,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator. “While we will continue collecting and analyzing samples, the trustees also will begin crafting an equally comprehensive restoration strategy. Our goal is to forge a restoration plan that is steeped in science, sharpened by public input and strongly rooted in the public good. The citizens of the Gulf Coast deserve nothing less.”

While the full extent of potential injuries is currently unknown and may not be known for some time, as of late August NOAA and the co-trustees had documented oil on more than 950 miles of shoreline, including salt marshes, sandy beaches, mudflats and mangroves. We have captured more than 1,900 live oiled birds and 400 live oiled sea turtles, and collected more than 1,850 visibly oiled dead birds, 17 visibly oiled dead sea turtles and five visibly oiled dead marine mammals. These numbers represent only a portion of the wildlife that have been impacted by the spill and the restoration planning process will further refine the total impact of this spill on the habitats and animals in the gulf.

For more information please see a new video describing the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process.