Oil spill: What is the threat to Gulf of Mexico seafood?
The Gulf of Mexico seafood industry is insisting that the oil spill has caused no major damage yet. But if nursery grounds are harmed, the impact could be serious.
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Louisiana's commercial fish industry sells $1.8 billion of product each year, rivaled only by Alaska. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for 40 percent of the seafood that is caught in the lower 48 states and consumed domestically.Skip to next paragraph
Preparing for landfall
Meanwhile, sport fishing produces $1 billion in sales a year, according to Business Week. The impact from the oil spill is already being felt by charter boat captains in places like Venice, La.
“Depending on what happens in the next few days, this could have a relatively small impact on coastal Louisiana or significant long-term effects, including closed fishing areas, oiled wildlife, and worse,” Mark Schexnayder, regional coastal adviser for Louisiana State University, tells Business Week.
Oystermen and shrimpers along the Gulf coast stepped up their trips to haul as much catch as they can before the the slick comes ashore. "We're fighting a losing effort," Louisiana oysterman Mitch Jurasich told the Associated Press.
Louisiana's coastline is 15,000 miles long and holds 3 million acres of wetlands, which nurse speckled trout, red drum, and myriad vaunted game fish. This year's brown shrimp catch is currently growing to size in the marsh inlands. Five million migratory birds also make the area their home for at least part of the year.
"If there is any good news, it's that all of our seafood harvest is below deck, so to speak," says Mr. Overton. "But if the nursery grounds are destroyed, the harvest this year may not be affected, but years out it will. If you destroy food habitat, this just tumbles and tumbles."