By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
State Wildlife and Fisheries agents on Monday cited eight shrimpers for catching shrimp in areas of Plaquemines Parish still closed from the oil spill. The department announced the incident on Wednesday, saying the shrimp subsequently were returned “since they were considered a public health risk to the consuming public.”
Monday was the opening of the spring inshore brown shrimp season. The area of Bay Jimmy where the shrimpers were caught is one of several that has remained closed to all commercial fishing since 2010 as a result of the spill.
And with the opening of the shrimp season, Wildlife and Fisheries agents have taken the opportunity to remind fishers of those remaining closures.
In response to the Wildlife and Fisheries actions, BP issued a statement that it “considers this be a very unfortunate incident and is at a complete loss to understand the basis for LDWF’s actions.”
“In the wake of the spill, BP voluntarily funded an extensive, multi-year program of testing for Louisiana seafood,” continued the statement, emailed to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune by BP spokesman Jason Ryan. “Since 2010, the Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana, have tested roughly 10,000 shellfish and finfish specimens.
“Not one test has exceeded thresholds for human health established by the Food and Drug Administration. The majority have not even detected any chemicals of concern associated with the spill.”
“Gulf seafood is safe,” the statement continued. “…BP has repeatedly asked the state for information to explain a genuine scientific basis for the closures when so much data shows that there is no impact to seafood.”
On Friday afternoon, Wildlife and Fisheries sent NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune a response to BP’s comments.
“Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is currently in the process of reviewing opening protocols for the areas closed as a result of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” the statement read. “While this is a detailed and intricate process, LDWF is working through these protocols to determine what, if any, areas can be re-opened.
“Once opening protocols are executed, LDWF will reassess and appropriately modify the current closures, if warranted.”