Pat: Here are two articles that recently appeared in the media. Both concern the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico due to the BP oil spill. They appear to present diametrically opposed opinions.
According to the WSAV-TV copy below, 40% of seafood eaten in the continental U.S. comes from the Gulf of Mexico.
The first article has state officials saying that they are finding deformed and visibly sick seafood coming out of the Gulf, so they’re shutting down shrimping in the Gulf.
In the second article, the FDA maintains that the seafood is safe to eat.
As for me and my family, we shall err on the side of caution.
State Officials Shut Down Shrimping in Gulf Amid Scientists Finding Deformities and ‘Horrifying Creatures’ — Media Attributes Closure to Lesions, Then Retracts
ENENews | April 26, 2012
Title: Looming Crisis: Officials Close Gulf Waters to Shrimping As Reports of Deformed Seafood Intensify
Source: Stuart H. Smith
Date: April 23, 2012
Alarmed by widespread reports of visibly sick, deformed seafood coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, state officials have closed area waters to shrimping this morning (April 23). The waters will be closed indefinitely as scientists run tests in an effort to get a handle on a situation that is fast becoming a full-blown crisis on the Gulf Coast.
The closures – including all waters in the Mississippi Sound, Mobile Bay, areas of Bon Secour, Wolf Bay and Little Lagoon – mark the first official step in responding to increasingly urgent reports from fishermen and scientists of grotesquely disfigured seafood from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle.
[…] I am deeply saddened but not surprised by the shrimping closures. I applaud the courageous move by state officials to put consumer safety first. There’s no doubt in my mind – as I’ve said for months on end – that seafood coming out of the Gulf of Mexico is unfit for human consumption. […]
Title: Waters Closed to Shrimping
Source: WEAR-TV ABC 3
Date: Wednesday, April 25 2012, 12:05 PM CDT
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has temporarily closed some local waterways to shrimping […] in the Mississippi Sound, Mobile Bay, areas of Bon Secour, Wolf Bay, and Little Lagoon.
The closure is in response to routine shrimp sampling that indicated the average size were smaller than 68 head-on shrimp per pound. […]
And we’d like to clarify that the closures were not due to lesions being found on shrimp as we reported earlier this weekend and Monday morning.
PREVIOUS REPORT: Area waters close to shrimping, April 21: […] The closure comes after scientists found smaller than average shrimp and lesions. They say the plan to test the water and will continue to run samples until the waters are re-opened. There is no set time when the waters will be open for shrimping again.
Title: Gulf Shrimping Shut Down
Source: 104.1 FM (Birmingham, AL)
Author: Todd Prater
Date: Apr. 23, 2012
[…] The closure comes after scientists found smaller than average population of shrimp and lesions. They say the plan to test the water and will continue to run samples until the waters are re-opened. There is no set time when the waters will be open for shrimping again
Title: Shrimp Without Eyes Found in the Gulf of Mexico
Author: Kris Allred
Date: April 24, 2012
[…] fishermen and scientists have found horrifying creatures in the Gulf of Mexico…including blue crabs without claws, shrimp without eyes and fish with lesions. […]
And it’s not just deformities that has researchers worried. It’s also the drastic decline in sea life populations, and that decline’s impact on the food chain.
In the continental United States, more than 40 percent of seafood is caught in the Gulf, making the levels of mutations in the region’s sea life a major cause for concern.
So does this mean that humans should stop consuming seafood caught in the Gulf? Well, the answer remains unclear. […]
But here is what one fisherman says…”We’re continuing to pull up oil in our nets. People who live here know better than to swim in or eat what comes out of our waters.”
* * * * *
Now here’s article #2, saying Go ahead and eat Gulf seafood, it’s fine! This article appeared in the “Living” section of the Miami Herald on April 24, 2012.
FDA: Gulf Seafood Safe Despite Oil Spill Concerns
Miami Herald | April 24, 2012
Photos of fish with sores may raise concern about long-term environmental effects of the massive BP oil spill – but federal health officials say the Gulf seafood that’s on the market is safe to eat.
After all, diseased fish aren’t allowed to be sold, said Dr. Robert W. Dickey, who heads the Food and Drug Administration’s Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory.
As marine biologists study the fish, here are some questions and answers about the safety of seafood:
Q: What keeps sick fish off the market?
A: Every wholesaler and seafood processor must follow longstanding FDA rules on what constitutes a safe and usable catch. Fish with lesions or signs of parasites or other disease aren’t allowed, Dickey said.
Q: What about oil contamination that’s not visible?
A: Federal and state laboratories tested more than 10,000 fish, shrimp and other animals for traces of certain chemicals in oil before commercial fishing was allowed to resume. Gulf Coast states are continuing that testing today as a precaution. Some species clear oil contaminants from their bodies more rapidly than others, the reason that fishing resumed before the oyster harvest. The FDA says that someone could eat 9 pounds of fish or 5 pounds of oyster meat a day for five years and still not reach the levels of concern for key chemicals.
Q: But what about the oil compounds scientists have reported finding in the bile of some fish?
A: Bile shows what a fish recently ate, but the fish’s digestive system goes on to process and eliminate contaminants so they don’t build up in edible tissue, Dickey said.
This article was written by Lauran Neergaard (AP).