ASSISTANT CHIEF SCIENTIST, Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Restoration Program
An oil tanker had spilled 17 olympic-sized swimming pools of oil into one of the most remote, fragile and productive habitats in the world.
After the massive clean-up and spill response, I was hired to help develop and launch the restoration program. I began by coordinating the review of reports and proposals by calling on the expertise of over 90 top scientists (experts on shorebirds, marine mammals, river otters, seaweed, halibut, chemists, archaeologists, microbiologists, etc.) from around North America.
One day an armada of 60 fishing boats showed up on the horizon displaying banners and blaring horns demanding a more robust investigation of the damages of the oil spill to fisheries. Their blockade shut down the movement of all oil from the pipeline terminal, catching the attention of Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior. Once he agreed to invest $5 million to resolve this, we took the lead.
On a bluebird day in Cordova, we joined local fishermen and scientists from the area out on a dock and talked it out. Together we built the Sound Ecosystem Assessment Program that expanded our ecological understanding of the fisheries of Prince William Sound.
PHOTO: VANESSA VICK
A photo one of my coworkers took of the fishing boat blockade