Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Friday, 03 September 2010
Blogpic Fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico welcomed the reopening of more than 5,000 square miles of waters in the eastern gulf yesterday, as well as news that they will be able to send samples to a federal lab.
But before they could get too excited, environmental groups sampling waters off the Louisiana coast announced their skepticism of the safety of seafood from gulf waters.
While I can't say I blame anyone for worrying about the safety of seafood gathered in waters potentially plagued by the Deepwater Horizon spill, I have to question the approach of the environmental groups who are testing the seafood.
Instead of targeting seafood already on the market or reaching out to commercial fishermen to test their catches, these groups have tested oysters right from the water, seafood that is not reaching the public.
Commercial fishermen in this region are eager for adequate testing. The last thing they want is to fight to get their product back on the market only to have its reputation marred by widespread (or even localized) contamination.
Louisiana has kept much of its coastline closed to oyster harvesting. Why? Because the state's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries does not want to risk putting contaminated product on the market or even in fishermen's holds.
I don't believe we should put blind faith in government, but we should ask ourselves: What motive would state and federal governments have to falsify seafood safety after the most publicized contaminating event in recent history?
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