Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Program

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) was established in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The 10-year research program aims to mitigate the impacts of hydrocarbon pollution and stressors on the marine environment and public health from the spill, as well as improve society's understanding of oil spill issues.

GoMRI provides support to the Sea Grant programs of the Gulf of Mexico (Florida, Mississippi-Alabama, Louisiana and Texas) for an extension and outreach effort to increase the use of oil spill science by people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf. This is a new model of a private entity engaging with the four Sea Grant programs in the Gulf of Mexico to develop a regional outreach program.

The specialists work as a team to implement outreach programs at a state and regional level. In addition, the program engages with the 29 other Sea Grant college programs throughout the nation to provide the latest oil spill science information.


Program Goals

1. Share emerging oil spill science with target audiences.
2. Collect input from target audience to inform the Sea Grant outreach program, and deliver input to the GoMRI Research Board to assist in assessing the direction of its investments.

The oil spill science outreach program allows Sea Grant specialists to find out what types of information target audiences want and develop tailor-made products for those audiences. The outreach specialists produce a variety of materials, such as fact sheets and bulletins, focused on meeting stakeholder information needs.

The specialists also gather input from target audiences through workshops and work with researchers to share oil spill research results at science seminars that are facilitated by the specialists. The program's outreach materials and events offer information about numerous published GoMRI research findings on such topics as dispersants, fisheries issues and tar balls.


Target Audiences

The program has four oil spill science outreach specialists who work with the constituent groups listed:
• Elected officials
• Emergency responders or managers
• Environmental non-profit staff members
• Fishers, commercial
• Fishers, for-hire
• Fishers, recreational
• Natural resource managers
• GoMRI outreach specialists
• Port and harbor employees
• Public health officials
• Tourism specialists
• University and college researchers


Recent Publications

Fisheries Landings and Disasters in the Gulf of Mexico (pdf)

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill's Impact on Gulf Seafood (pdf)

View oil spill science seminars, workshops and upcoming events


Peer Listening Program

The Peer Listening Program provides support and knowledge to a community going through a challenging time (natural or man-made disaster). The program consists of training peer listeners to provide a supportive ear and/or professional referrals (if deemed needed). The goal is to help the mental health of our community through our connection and a supportive ear. Listeners are from the local community and therefore are able to connect on a closer level and be trusted by their community members. Peer listeners can be anyone willing to help out their community.

Peer listening is a type of support that occurs when people provide knowledge, experience, emotional, social or practical help to each other. Properly trained peer listeners can provide a number of services to the community, such as serving as an available ear to assist in problem solving or providing referrals to professionals. Peer listeners drawn from local communities are more often trusted than outsiders because they better understand the community and its relationship to the disaster.

Peer listeners work with local churches, community groups, mental health organizations or individually with family and friends. Many people affected by technological disasters are reluctant to use traditional mental health services. Often those affected might not even be aware they could use such services. Research has shown that traditional mental health services may not be effective in dealing with the long-term effects of disasters. Informal social support networks including trained peer listeners are one way to address these difficulties.

To view slides from an online training (updated for the COVID-19 pandemic), the video of the training and the training manual, visit our peer listening training page.