Wow, sounds great. Unfortunately, digging beneath the headlines reveals a less glowing report from Gulf waters.
The most significant increase in Gulf catch comes from the uncontained, uncapped, Gulf menhaden harvest. Going from 900 million pounds on average for the past 10 years, they lept to 1.3 billion pounds in 2011.
Before we sound the 'all clear' we also need to remember, that due to cascading sub-lethal impacts, it wasn't until four seasons after the Exxon Valdez spill that the Prince William Sound herring fishery collapsed.
So yes, bouyed by an enormous menhaden catch, which is a high-volume, low-value fishery, the Gulf's totals were increased, but whereever BP's oil impacts were signficant, shrimp and crab harvests were off their ten year average.
The AP told this story well ahead of these rosy headlines last year, when they analyzed catch information for specific areas, and warned that problems were afoot.
Oh, and about that menhaden harvest? We've advocated for years that the fishery go through an actual ecosystem assesment, and set a science-based catch limit which takes into account how incredibly valuable those fish are to the rest of the Gulf's marine wildlife. A recent scientific study recommends considerably more agressive managment of 'forage fish' species such as menhaden, cutting catch rates in half to protect their larger and more valuable role as food for high value fisheries.