73 Shrimp Isn’t a Sample Size…It’s Lunch! NOAA Reopens Waters Based on Tiny Sampling of Shrimp


The reopening of 5,130 square miles of Gulf waters to shrimping and fishing last Thursday (Sept. 2) brings the seafood safety issue once again to the fore. And those of us pushing for more seafood testing are welcoming another strong voice to our ranks: Gina Solomon, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Ms. Solomon is calling on federal officials to conduct a more rigorous testing regimen for Gulf seafood. Sound familiar?

A Times-Picayune story notes that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) proclaimed shrimp and other seafood safe to eat, “but Solomon said the data indicate that the agency only used data from 12 samples of shrimp, consisting of 73 individual shrimp, for its evaluation.”

Hey, as we’ve said on this blog before, 73 shrimp isn’t a sample size…it’s lunch. But not for those of us still worried about the impacts of both the oil, and the dispersants used by BP.

According to Jane “the Vast Majority of the Spill is Gone” Lubchenco, NOAA’s administrator: “The Gulf seafood taken from these waters is safe to eat, and today’s reopening announcement is another signal to tourists the northern Gulf is open for business.” Her proclamation isn’t nearly as reassuring when you discover it’s based on the testing of “73 individual shrimp.” And knowing that shrimp alone in Louisiana is worth in excess of $100 million annually, we feel pretty strongly that NOAA should be testing more than 73 of them before we give an “all clear” to consumers.

Stay tuned…this is far from over.

The TP article is here: http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/09/more_seafood_testing_needed_sc.html

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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