Murky Research* Alabama Biomass vs Barataria Catches

Over an hour of shrimping in Port Sulphur brings in little catch. GRN photo, May 15, 2012.A news report from Ben Raines at the Mobile Press Register details some simple science that shows big increases in biomass in Alambama’s coastal waters in the fall of 2011. A simple shrimp trawl survey that the Dauphin Island Sea Lab has been running for years has documented a spike in sea life the year after the BP disaster. Researchers point to the wide-scale and long-duration fishing closures in 2010 due to the BP disaster as the likely cause, and are quick to caution that the increase in biomass might make it harder to closely monitor for the likely sub-lethal BP impacts, such as those experienced by Barataria bay dolphins and Gulf killifish.At the same time this research is being shared, shrimpers in the Louisiana coastal waters hit hard by BP are complaining that their catch remains significantly down. An AP analysis of trip tickets for shrimp and crabs in the area backs the claim. “I’m afraid that oil spill has ruined us – We’re hardly unloading any brown shrimp at all,” said Lafitte shrimp dock owner Ken Lee, quoted in the AP story by Cain Burdeau.The most outrageous news from the Sea Lab research is that it’s not going to be proceeding due to a lack of funds! 2 years post BP is not the time to halt any long-term, ongoing Gulf marine/fisheries research. We need to be greatly expanding research, especially the long-term work which helps establish the baseline conditions in the coastal and marine ecosystems. GRN has consistently called for a long-term monitoring fund, and it’s clear that need remains, and is growing more critical. The RESTORE Act would send BP’s Clean Water Act fines to the Gulf, and includes resources for long-term research and monitoring, so please, pick up the phone today! Aaron Viles is GRN’s Deputy Director. You can follow him on twitter here.*With apologies to Car Talk

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