Wednesday, October 21, 2020

EVOSTC Considers Plan Incorporating Ecosystem Approach to Oil Spill Boundary

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council is taking public comment through Dec. 16 on four draft resolutions, including one for an ecosystem approach to address a broader spectrum of ecological impacts from the 1989 oil spill disaster in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

The restoration plan approved in 1994 set policies to guide council positions for restoration, with a focus on initial impact boundaries identified as the spill area, where the most serious injury occurred and the need for restoration was greatest, while allowing for flexibility to respond to changing restoration needs.

During its October meeting, the council drafted four resolutions, including one to address a broader spectrum of ecological impacts, including adverse effects to ecosystem services and mobile fish and wildlife populations whose ranges overlap or intersect with the spill area.

The draft document notes that available science has consistently pointed to a broader ecological footprint attributable to the spill than is represented by the current defined spill area.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists, for example, have shown red salmon in Prince William Sound are derived from natal streams as far away as the Copper and Bering rivers, and many of the 90 species of sea birds injured by the spill move significant distances – well beyond the designated spill area – throughout the year, especially during the reproductive season.

The complete resolution is online at

Comment is also sought on three other draft resolutions, including one to eliminate the annual trustee council public meeting, one to change procedures for approval of multi-year projects, and one to combine the council’s habitat and research sub-accounts. Find copies of all the resolutions, plus additional information, online at

Comments may be submitted online at

The trustee council was formed in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker striking Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil, resulting in devastating damage to fish, sea otters, seals and seabirds.

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