Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Environmental Science and Policy

Major Professor

Andrew Price-Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Daly, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Frank Muller-Karger, Ph.D.


Hypoxia, Economic interests, Conflict, Action plan, Marine policy


The Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating, and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico represents the first national attempt to address this environmental issue. Hypoxia is the condition of low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in a body of water. This condition leads to a so-called “dead zone” and potentially threatens industries dependent on the living marine resources of this area. The potential impact of any policy or plan designed to combat hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico could have significant impacts on stakeholder groups, specifically the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico, and the agriculture and fertilizer industries in the Midwest.

This thesis examines the influence of the relative economic power of the aforementioned industries on the development of effective policy to mitigate hypoxia. The relative economic power of the agriculture and fertilizer industries has significantly impacted the development and efficacy of this plan. The fishing industry, on the other hand, was not well represented in the development of the plan. The Action Plan reflects the interests of industries with significant lobbying power, while the interests of less mobilized groups are not equally represented. This disparity between the influence of industry on the development of policy designed to reduce, mitigate and control hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico could severely restrict the efficacy of future attempts to address the problem. This includes the recommendations set forth by the United States Commission on Ocean Policy regarding non-point source pollution as it pertains to hypoxia, as well as any new plan that could result from the five year reassessment of the Action Plan, which is currently in progress.