The BP oil disaster cost the Gulf of Mexico's commercial fishing industry $94.7 million to $1.6 billion and anywhere from 740 to 9,315 jobs in the first eight months, according to a new study by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The $355,888 study measured the effect of the Macondo well blowout from May through December 2010, the same period of time that is being used to calculate claims being paid to fishers under a 2012 court-approved settlement agreement between private parties and BP.

The authors of the study, conducted by The Vertex Companies of Boston, say the economics of the commercial seafood industry in the Gulf of Mexico are complex, and that a variety of factors contributed to the low and high estimates in their study. In some cases, dramatically reduced catch was partially offset Gulf-wide by price increases driven by both the oil spill and by other factors, such as a disease that limited the availability of foreign farm-raised shrimp.

Louisiana's commercial fishing industry bore the brunt of the costs of the spill, compared to  the four other Gulf states, said the report, released Wednesday (June 22). The highest costs affected the catch of shrimp, oysters, crabs and menhaden.

For instance, the study found that in May 2010, 65 percent less shrimp was landed in Louisiana than in the previous year. Louisiana also saw a 54 percent decline in oyster landings in 2010, compared to 2009, the report said. And the state's oyster revenue also dropped dramatically, by 51 percent over the previous year.

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