Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Is Gulf of Mexico seafood safe to eat?

Many people are asking this question, and seafood sales are down in the region. Some 15% to 25% of people surveyed are negative about seafood and worried about safety, the numbers vary depending on how the question is asked.

In response, the Florida Department of Agriculture
is now rolling out Florida Gulf Safe stickered logos to restaurants, retailers and seafood wholesalers. Some restaurants have already put the logo on menu inserts, and wholesalers can place the logo on their packages.

“This is not a certification program,” said May. “It means that, from everything we know, it is safe.”

But some fishermen have doubts about the safety of Gulf of Mexico seafood. Fishermen from 4 Gulf of Mexico states held a press conference recently to question what they believe is the premature re-opening of fishing grounds. They issued a press release that said:

"Gulf Coast fishermen do not want to sell tainted seafood but are being forced, by the premature opening of inland and gulf waters to commercial fishing, to choose between a clean gulf or their livelihood," according to a press release announcing the event. "Fishermen would rather work cleaning the severely damaged gulf than selling tainted seafood.
Concerns over the safety of Gulf seafood deepened last week after crabbers in coastal Mississippi pulled up dozens of crabs with black-tainted gills—something they'd never seen before. Crabs are bottom feeders, so the presence of oil in their tissues suggests the pollution is now covering the sea floor."

There is a lot being done to ensure Gulf seafood is safe, but that's a difficult task. Testing and tracking everything that's caught is impossible, and the technology available sometimes come down to the good 'ol "sniff test" (does it smell like oil?)

Industry promoters believe that Gulf seafood is safe and the only threat is people being overly alarmed. They are mounting a photo-op type campaign in response, and planning to meet with Obama in Washington DC, bringing a 30 foot po' boy with a "bipartisan mix of shrimp and oysters.

There is more to come on this issue, I think it'll be around for years to come. Among other things, it's a confidence in government issue, and for those who attack the government as being "the enemy," we're all now living with the consequences of such attacks.


Fisheries said...

Interesting question and debate.

Fact is even if the hard data shows seafood in the region is tainted, powerful forces in fisheries will see that the data is strip mined out of the final conclusions.

Tharanum said...

This question is very valid. but it may be 50% yes & 50% no answer.