Hypoxia Task Force Action Plans and Goal Framework
The Task Force first agreed to a Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan in 2001 and then updated it in 2008 in consideration of new science. In 2015, the Task Force updated the Coastal Goal, as described below. The Task Force uses these goals to guide state nutrient reduction strategies and assess collective progress. Learn more about the different plans and goals in the following sections.
Learn more how the Task Force is implementing the current action plan goals.
The 2001 Action Plan describes a national strategy to reduce the frequency, duration, size and degree of oxygen depletion of the hypoxic zone of the northern Gulf of Mexico (the Gulf). The Action Plan was the result of an Integrated Assessment and discussion by the Task Force and many concerned officials and citizens who participated in their deliberations. This Plan was submitted to Congress in accordance with The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998, Title VI of Public Law 105-383, section 604(b), enacted on November 13, 1998.
Action item 11 of the 2001 Action Plan called for an assessment of progress in achieving the three goals of the Action Plan (Coastal, Within Basin, and Quality of Life) and for decisions on a future course of action. This call for a reassessment resulted in several products including a proposal and timeline for the process, four symposia, teams to compile data, and an EPA Science Advisory Board findings.
The 2008 Action Plan describes a national strategy to reduce, mitigate, and control hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin. This plan was released on June 16, 2008.
The Task Force released the 2008 Action Plan as a product of a four-year reassessment that was called for in the 2001 Action Plan. The revised Plan reflects emerging science including EPA's Science Advisory Board report.
The Task Force held six public meetings throughout the MARB to inform the public of the progress of the reassessment of the Action Plan. The draft Action Plan received over 750 public comments.
The updated 2008 Action Plan calls for state strategies and a dual nutrient reduction effort under Action Item 1. The 12 state nutrient reduction strategies developed as a result are the cornerstone of the Hypoxia Task Force efforts in implementing the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan and delivering the pollution reductions needed from each state to meet Hypoxia Task Force goals.
Action 11 of the 2008 Action Plan called for a reassessment every five years of the Task Force approach to addressing excess nitrogen and phosphorus loads in the MARB, and to reduce the size of the Gulf hypoxic zone, and the Task Force produced the 2013 Reassessment. It provided a snapshot of progress to date in implementing the 2008 Action Plan: each Task Force state developed a nutrient reduction strategy; USDA supported strong assistance for conservation practices; science and monitoring improved; and the Task Force agreed their goal remained reasonable. The Reassessment recommended that the Task Force work to accelerate implementation of nutrient reduction activities and identify ways to measure progress at a variety of scales.
The 2015 Goal Framework details the updated time of attainment for the original hypoxic zone reduction goal, an interim target for 2025, and the Task Force’s commitment to accelerated and new actions to reduce nutrients across the MARB.