Tuesday, August 2, 2011


A new report released today The Gulf of Mexico at a Glance: A Second Glance, will provide coastal managers, planners, policy officials, and others with a reference to support regional decision-making and communications about the importance of healthy Gulf coastal ecosystems to a robust national economy, a safe population, and a high quality of life.
The report, released by NOAA, in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,provides economic and ecological highlights about the Gulf’s coastal communities, economy, and ecosystems. This report is an update to NOAA’s original Gulf of Mexico at a Glance, published in June 2008.
The updated version includes nineteen topics that reveal highlights about the region, such as changes in the Gulf’s coastal population from 1970 to 2020, the impact the Gulf’s coastal areas have on the U.S. economy, the extent of land-based and marine protected areas in the Gulf coast region, and the vulnerability of the Gulf coast to long-term sea level rise.
Highlights of the report’s summary facts include:
Gulf Communities:
  • Population in the 141 coastal watershed counties of the Gulf Coast Region, has increased 109 percent since 1970, compared to a 52 percent increase in total U.S. population.
  • 17 percent of the population in the Gulf Coast region lives below the poverty level, compared to 13 percent nationally.
Gulf Economy:
  • If they were their own country, the five U.S. Gulf states—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas—would together rank seventh in global Gross Domestic Product.
  • The Gulf Coast Region had 13 of the nation’s 20 leading ports for tonnage in 2009.
  • In 2009, three of the top six commercial fishing ports in the U.S. by pounds landed were in the Gulf Coast region.
Gulf Ecosystems:
  • More than 15,000 plant and animal species are found in Gulf of Mexico waters.
  • 31 percent of the Gulf of Mexico coastal watershed area is comprised of wetlands, a total of 28,372 square miles of this valuable natural resource.
  • Nearly 60 percent of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico shoreline is considered very vulnerable to sea level rise.
“The natural disasters the Gulf of Mexico has endured over the past decade have cast a national spotlight on the strong interconnection between the Gulf economy and ecosystems and its people,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This report provides a valuable snapshot of the region for our partners, government and non-government alike, who work to protect lives and property, sustain the resilient Gulf ecosystem, and advance the scientific and stewardship goals outlined in the President’s National Ocean Policy.”
Created by NOAA’s National Ocean Service, The Gulf of Mexico at a Glance: A Second Glance, as well as other NOAA State of the Coast website resources,can be viewed and downloaded online.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us onFacebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.