"The Gulf Coast region is vital to our Nation and our economy, providing valuable energy resources, abundant seafood, extraordinary beaches and recreational activities, and a rich cultural heritage. Its waters and coasts are home to one of the most diverse environments in the world -- including over 15,000 species of sea life. Over twenty-two million Americans live in Gulf coastal counties -- working in crucial U.S. industries like commercial seafood, shipping, tourism, and oil and gas production. The region also boasts ten of America's fifteen largest ports allowing for nearly a trillion dollars in trade each year. Despite the tremendous importance of the Gulf Coast region, the ecological health of the region has been significantly impacted. The Gulf Coast States have experienced loss of critical wetland habitats, erosion of barrier islands, imperiled fisheries, water quality degradation, and significant coastal land loss due to the alteration of hydrology and other human activities. Amplifying these issues, the Gulf Coast region has endured significant natural and man-made catastrophes in the last decade, including major hurricanes such as Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike, and the 'Deepwater Horizon' oil spill."
Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council: http://www.restorethegulf.gov/