Press Releases

The Water Institute of the Gulf Releases Report on Trends in Oil and Gas Infrastructure, Ecosystem Function, and Socioeconomic Wellbeing in Coastal LA

Oct 25, 2016

Baton Rouge — Communities with more oil and gas development within a short driving distance, or better access to good fish habitat, generally score higher on socioeconomic factors than the rest of Louisiana’s coast, according to a new study from The Water Institute of the Gulf.

It's just one finding from the new report that explores trends in oil and gas infrastructure, ecosystem function, and socioeconomic wellbeing in coastal Louisiana to support better management and decision making processes. The project was funded by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academy of Sciences, and synthesizes data from multiple sources to assess coast wide and community trends in infrastructure development since the 1950s in coastal Louisiana. Trends were then quantified in socioeconomic wellbeing and ecosystem function related to fish and shellfish habitat, over the same time period, to assess linkages between infrastructure development, ecosystem function, and socioeconomic wellbeing of communities.

“A novel aspect of the research was collating infrastructure, socioeconomic and ecological data and calculating changes at both a coastwide and a community scale,” said Tim Carruthers, director of coastal ecology at the Institute and serving as principal investigator for this particular study. “Tracking habitat suitability for fish and shellfish over time, we found that habitat hotspots for fish and shellfish have moved north (inland), but, even with large scale loss of marsh, the total area of the coast with high value for these species has remained steady over the past six decades.”

“Understanding the long history of resilient human communities in coastal Louisiana that have had to adapt over time to changing environmental, economic, and social conditions is vital to applying research in decision-making processes,” commented Scott Hemmerling, director of People, Resources and Technology, at the Institute and co-primary investigator on the project. “Oil and gas development, in particular, has long been a key component of Louisiana’s coastal economy as well as a primary indicator of wellbeing in coastal communities.”

To read the full report and gather specific details on the estimated suitability of habitat for fish and shellfish, oil and gas related coastal infrastructure density, and the socioeconomic wellbeing of coastal Louisiana, please visit

About The Water Institute of the Gulf

The Water Institute of the Gulf is a not-for-profit, independent research and technical services resource for resilient coasts and sustainable water systems worldwide. The work of the Institute helps ensure livable communities and a thriving economy and environment. For more information, visit