Yesterday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reopened a third of the banned fishing areas in the Gulf of Mexico. Some 26,388 square miles of the Gulf were reopened to fishing by NOAA. NOAA along with the FDA and surrounding States, indicated that the fish they have been testing passed the protocols that were put in place, to ensure the safe harvesting and consumption of seafood. One problem arising from the resumption of commercial fishing in the oil affected areas of the Gulf, is that fisherman are balking at the protocols that were put in place to ensure a safe harvest. It seems that the current “protocols” are dependent on the human nose. If the fish caught smell fine, then they are good to eat, according to the government. Federal inspectors use the same nose test when they visit fish processing plants. The only problem is that the chemical dispersants used to control the oil slick do not show up in the nose test. Fisherman and scientists are asking for tissue testing that can assess the actual contaminates found in fish being caught. According to the government such a test does not exist, but that they are working on getting one developed, according to an FDA spokesperson. In the mean time the government is saying that the fish being caught are fine for human consumption. Louisiana’s Governor Jindal is asking that BP fund a twenty-year test and certification program to restore confidence in seafood from the Gulf. The initial cost of his plan would be $173 million over five years, and it would require that three criteria for seafood be met in that time, including that tissue samples from fish show no signs of oil from the spill, according to the governors office. Quite frankly, it seems that the government’s rush to reopen Gulf fishing is nothing but a PR move. It is going to take year’s to assess the real damage done to the fisheries of the Gulf. Allowing fish to be harvested at this time from the affected Gulf areas only exposes people to a potential health threat.
Photo: NOAA Sniff Test Photo Credit: NOAA