In the two decades following the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), and after extensive restoration, research and monitoring efforts, it has been recognized that full recovery from the spill will take decades and requires long-term monitoring of both the injured resources and factors other than residual oil that may continue to inhibit recovery or adversely impact resources that have recovered.
Monitoring information is valuable for assessing recovery of injured species, managing those resources and the services they provide, and informing the communities who depend on the resources. In addition, long-term, consistent, scientific data is critical to allow us to detect and understand ecosystem changes and shifts that directly or indirectly (e.g. through food web relationships) influence the species and services injured by the spill.
Gulf Watch Alaska is the long-term ecosystem monitoring program of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. The current five-year, $12 million program began in February 2012 and is the first increment of a program anticipated to span a 20-year period. The program is organized into four related ecosystem monitoring components , with data management, modeling, and synthesis projects providing overall integration across the program.
Much of the work completed as part of the Gulf Watch Alaska program could not be accomplished without the leveraging of support, funding and resources by our partners and collaborators.