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Aquarium of Veracruz (Acuario de Veracruz) Receives Gulf Guardian Award

Release Date: 06/09/2011
Contact Information: Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726 or www.epa.gov/gmpo

(STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – June 9, 011) – The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that Aquarium of Veracruz, Veracruz, Mexico will receive a Gulf Guardian Award for 2011 in the Binational Category for their Harmful Algal Blooms monitoring program. The Awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Meeting on August 3, 2011, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place in New Orleans.

The Veracruz Aquarium is the largest in Latin America, with facilities that house nearly 2,200 aquatic animals from around the world and 1,225,000 gallons of fresh and marine water. Since its opening in 1992 the Aquarium's mission has been to enhance appreciation of the aquatic world promoting the conservation of the natural resources with educational programs and research projects. Over one million people visit the facility each year.

During the year 2001 the Aquarium of Veracruz, was directly impacted by a harmful algal bloom called Karenia brevis. The bloom affected the water quality at the facility and also caused a decrease in marine organisms being found in the coral reefs at the Isla de Sacrificios, a Natural Protected Area with National Marine status and one of the eight emergent platform reefs that form part of the Systema Arrecifal Veracruzano, Veracruz Reef System. Because this phenomenon continued to periodically recur in the subsequent years and due to the significance of the problem, the Aquarius of Veracruz implemented a Red Tide Monitoring Program starting in 2004.

The objective of the sampling is to identify the single-celled marine organisms, assess their toxicity, and evaluate them in order to determine the characteristics, seasonal and population dynamics, and other parameters. This information is used to establish and maintain cultures of the bloom-associated species in order to better understand their environmental impacts. As a result, an innovative data collection system, powered weather stations and BreveBusters, optical instruments that detect harmful algal blooms, are now in place and providing real time data.

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. First-, second- and third-place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts.

"The Gulf Guardian Award winners demonstrate great examples of collaborative efforts leading to solutions that address the Gulf of Mexico environment," said EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz. "Their accomplishments are making a positive difference in protecting and restoring the Gulf and EPA is pleased to recognize their environmental stewardship."

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

Gloria Car, Acting Director of the Gulf of Mexico Program, said, “This is the 11th year of the Gulf Guardian Awards Program, and I am proud to say that each year the winners in all categories have represented the very best of environmental accomplishments in the Gulf of Mexico. The partnership of the Gulf of Mexico Program works to improve the environmental health of the Gulf, and the Gulf Guardian Awards is an important way for us to recognize these valuable efforts. The 2011 award winners truly exemplify the enthusiastic and committed citizens, communities, governments, and businesses that address complex problems to improve, protect, and sustain our regional and national treasure, the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information regarding this Binational Award, please contact Zahorit Hernández
Acuario de Veracruz (+52 229) 9311020 ext 117 or email at zahogray@hotmail.com.


Editor’s Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call the Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726 or visit our web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo.

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