The LDWF fisheries closures around Grand Terre Islands prompt BP outcry
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National Fisherman


Seafood Is Tested For Signs Of Oil Contamination

Snapper are filleted at Inland Seafood in NOLA in August of 2010. Chemical and “sniff testing” of fish began after the spill. Three years later, there are mixed views on whether Gulf seafood is safe to eat.

On the 28th, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham announced that additional areas of Grand Terre Islands were closed. In a press release, the LDWF said that, tar mats located during ongoing surveys were removed this week in the intertidal and subtidal areas of Grand Terre Islands. Some of those mats were in areas that are already closed, however some additional closures were required.

The area closed is the portion of state outside waters “seaward a distance of one-half mile from the shoreline from the southwestern shore of east Grand Terre at -89 degrees 54 minutes 04 seconds west longitude; thence eastward along the shoreline to the southeastern shore of Grand Terre at -89 degrees 51 minutes 39 seconds west longitude; thence eastward along 29 degrees 18 minutes 46 seconds north latitude to -89 degrees 51 minutes 19 seconds west longitude.

The LDWF did this following the announcement that “state health leaders” called for the ban after flesh-eating bacteria were suspected in these coastal waters, reports WBRZ. However, this was not mentioned in LDWF’s official press release on its web site.

The LDWF’s actions drew a response from BP today, who issued their own press release claiming that actions such as these hurt the image of the state, and once again reassured the public that they believe Gulf seafood is safe to eat.

Nevertheless, LDWF says:
[that] no person shall take/possess or attempt to take any species of fish for commercial purposes from waters within the closed area. The possession, sale, barter, trade or exchange of any fish or other aquatic life from the closed area during the closure is prohibited.

All commercial fishing is prohibited in the closed areas. Recreational fishing is limited to recreational rod and reel fishing which includes licensed charter boat guides.

Commercial fishing activities prohibited are: shrimping, trawling, skimming, butterflying, crabbing, flounder and garfish gigging, cast netting, oyster harvesting, gill netting, hoop netting, minnow trapping, rod and reeling, jug lining, using a bow and arrow, purse seining, set lining and spear gunning.

Prohibited recreational fishing means no crabbing, shrimping, flounder gigging, cast netting, bait seining, bow fishing, spearing, snagging and dip netting. Charter boat and recreational angling are still allowed.

According to BP, not one test [of Gulf seafood] has exceeded thresholds for human health established by the Food and Drug Administration. Gulf seafood is the most rigorously tested seafood in the country, and every test conducted – by multiple state and federal agencies – has shown the same thing: Gulf seafood is safe.

BP says that by extending fishery closures, the state may help perpetuate the myth that consumers should avoid Gulf seafood and tourists should avoid Louisiana’s waters. When no scientific basis is provided for the decision, Louisiana does a disservice to the thousands of people who work in the commercial fishing, recreational fishing, and tourism industries and who depend on those industries for their livelihoods.

The state’s decision to extend the fishery closure appears to be groundless, and that hurts the people of Louisiana and the reputation of the state.

However, readers should note that these closures of recreational and commercial fishing have been implemented based on the Secretary of the Department’s information received from biologists and other scientists.

BP is still in the midst of a contentious civil trial in New Orleans, where not only billions, but the company’s gravely tarnished image, are at stake .

Here is a map detailing this closure. Here is another area map that highlights the fishing closures in red. For a complete list of press releases that detail the history of closures and openings in the area following the spill, please click here.

Note: An earlier version of this article today did not include the link to flesh-eating bacteria. Also, the original photo caption said Gulf seafood isn’t safe to eat and it has been corrected to express there are mixed views. Also, the original caption referred to sniff test “fishing” and that has also been corrected to sniff “testing” of fish.- lw

Special thanks to Richard Charter.

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