Concerns Remain on Seafood Safety

The federal government, and the various Gulf states, recently worked together to host a series of dockside chats to help reassure nervous fishermen, and the public, about the safety of Gulf seafood in recently reopened fishing areas. Nonetheless, many members of the public, Gulf fishermen, and even some independent scientist are continuing to raise concerns about the protocols and standards that NOAA, EPA, and state governments are using to determine when to reopen closed Gulf waters.On the Natural Resource Defense Council published a particularly interesting blog on this subject, titled Gulf Shrimp Testing: Is a Dozen Samples in 5000 Square Miles Enough to Reassure You? You should definitely check out the full post, along with the other great reporting the NRDC has been doing on this subject. However, here are some highlights:The bottom line is this, as of September 2nd:” FDA has released data on a total of 42 shrimp samples from Louisiana, 12 from Florida, 7 from Alabama, and 6 from Mississippi. Each sample contained an average of between 1 and 7 shrimp,” NOAA has released data on chemical testing of a total of 17 shrimp samples from offshore Gulf waters, containing an average of 6 shrimp each.The NRDC blog focuses on what is going on in federal waters, but a similar story can be told in state waters, at least in Mississippi. I was recently sent a series of letters and datasets that seem to suggest that the decision to open state waters in the Mississippi Sound (a body of water that measures around 1,850 square miles) was based on the following:Finfish and shrimp samples: 24Crab Samples: 12Oyster Samples: 12State officials have indicated that they will post these letters and data on their website soon, but both the state of MS Department of Marine Resources and Department of Environmental Quality sites appear to be down right now. Keep an eye out for updates on this important issue.Update: You can review these documents here. It’s worth noting that the letter related to finfish and shrimp appears to have an error. In the title, it is labeled as encompassing “Zones 1-4,” which include Mississippi state waters north of the barrier islands, but in the text of the letter it references the areas south of the barrier islands. It’s unclear which designation is correct. Raleigh Hoke is GRN’s Mississippi Organizer.

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