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Expect that we will be facing the same here soon....

Mark W

Louisiana shuts down some oyster harvesting and fishing because of Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Bob Warren, The Times-Picayune

April 30, 2010, 5:04PM

Late Friday, the state departments of Health and Hospitals and Wildlife and Fisheries announced severe restrictions on fishing and oyster harvesting east of the Mississippi River.

The agencies announced the closure ? beginning at 6 p.m. ? of oyster Areas 2 through 7 as a precautionary response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Also, recreational and commercial fishing will be shut down in Zone 1, excluding the coastal boundaries of Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas. Zone 1 is essentially the state's fishing areas east of the Mississippi River. That closure is also effective at 6 p.m. Friday.

?I signed this emergency closure today as a proactive effort to prevent any oil-tainted fish, shrimp or crab from being caught and thus consumed,? Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham said in the news release. ?Now is the time to act as we see what the impacts may be to Louisiana?s fragile ecosystems.?

John Tesvich, chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, said no oil had reached the oyster grounds east of the river or in Breton Sound. But, he said, the shutdown is a good precaution.

"We're closing it well in advance to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of Louisiana seafood,'' Tesvich said.

Since the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig and resulting leak, officials from DHH?s Office of Public Health Molluscan Shellfish Program have been closely monitoring the situation and continuing daily tests of the eight-million-acre Louisiana shoreline, DHH said.

As officials continue to monitor the remaining unaffected oyster beds west of the Mississippi River, DHH is working closely with Wildlife and Fisheries, the state?s oyster harvesters and the Louisiana Oyster Task Force to ensure the safety of oysters taken from areas currently not affected by the spill. All oysters taken prior to closure of the affected beds are safe to eat, DHH said.

?We have an extensive and well-tested program of monitoring the safety of oysters harvested in Louisiana,? DHH Secretary Alan Levine said. ?We have been monitoring the oysters in the affected areas before the closures and will use those tests as a baseline to ensure long-term safety of the oysters when this incident ends.?

State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said the department?s team continues to conduct regular monitoring of the unaffected areas.

?Oysters that are still coming out of the many unaffected beds across the Louisiana coast are being watched closely,? Dr. Guidry said. ?All of the beds that remain open are safe.?
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