A Sound idea: Cities, counties form coalition

By Gerald Blessey

Our coastal way of life is threatened. We must stand united to protect it.

The 2019 openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway caused great damage to the Mississippi Sound and our fisheries, tourism and coastal culture.

Recognizing the threat of future openings and other man-made damage, Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich asked me to form a voluntary coalition of coast mayors, supervisors and their attorneys to study the issues and recommend legislation and legal action to restore the sound and protect it from further harm.

The Mississippi Sound Coalition organized on Nov. 20, 2019 and approved its Mission: The Mission of the Mississippi Sound Coalition is to restore and protect the ecosystem of the Mississippi Sound and the way of life and economies of coastal communities that depend on it, based on good science and fair public policy.

From time to time, the Coalition recommends action to its member governments for:

— Public education about scientific and legal issues affecting the Mississippi Sound;

— Advocacy of legislation, appropriations, projects and public policies to U.S. Government, Senators and Members of Congress and Mississippi officials and legislators to restore and protect the Mississippi Sound and all who depend on it; and

— When needed, litigation in the public interest to restore and protect the Mississippi Sound and all who depend on it.

Thus far, coalition voting members are the mayors of Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pass Christian, Diamondhead, Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Ocean Springs and Pascagoula, and the presidents of the Hancock and Harrison County Boards of Supervisors.

Members elected Marlin Ladner as chairperson, Blaine La Fontaine as vice chair, and Gerald Blessey, special counsel for Biloxi, as manager of the coalition and its attorneys committee, including Robert Wiygul, a renowned environmental lawyer practicing in Ocean Springs.

The group has also appointed Dr. Mobashir “Moby” Solangi, an authority on the Mississippi Sound and Gulf of Mexico, as chair of its Science Advisory Committee. The committee will advise the Mississippi Sound Coalition members about natural science and social science research and issues that may affect the Mississippi Sound ecosystem and the fisheries, tourism and Coastal way of life that depend upon it.

Be a part of the movement: Any person or business interested in joining the Mississippi Sound Coalition should send a letter, including your address, phone number, email address and a statement of support of the coalition’s mission, to Gerald Blessey, Manager of the Mississippi Sound Coalition, PO Box 4648, Biloxi, Mississippi, 39535. There is no financial obligation.