NEW ORLEANS — President Obama endorsed a plan Tuesday to rehabilitate the Gulf of Mexico with some of the billions of dollars in water pollution fines expected from the companies responsible for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the government’s point person on Gulf Coast restoration, also said some of the money could be used to repair sections of the Gulf ravaged by other events.

Mabus said it would be up to Congress to determine how much of fines to set aside for the overall restoration. Obama said he will ask Congress to dedicate the money.

Dedicating fines levied against BP and other companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon accident to restoration and directly to Gulf states, which the Mabus plan calls for, will require a change in law. Currently, Clean Water Act fines go into a trust fund to pay for oil spill cleanups.

An April 20 rig explosion in the Gulf killed 11 workers and led to 206 million gallons of oil spewing from BP PLC’s undersea well.

Penalties can be levied against BP, which owned the well and was leasing the rig that exploded, under a variety of environmental protection laws, including fines of up to $1,100 under the Clean Water Act for each barrel of oil spilled. If BP were found to have committed gross negligence or willful misconduct, the fine could be up to $4,300 per barrel.