90% of Miss. Oysters Are Dead


Bad news for the seafood industry continues unabated. That annual tour of the upcoming oyster season off Pass Christian, Miss., we reported on yesterday (Sept. 1) couldn’t have turned out much worse: 90 percent of the oysters were dead.

The state’s Department of Marine Resources hosted the event, complete with reporters. And “an abundance” of empty oyster shells was the result. “We’ve lost this season,” one oysterman told the Sun Herald newspaper.

But, as we’ve seen before, the “official” stance is kind to British Petroleum. Scott Gordon, director of the Mississippi shellfish bureau, cautioned that there could be other reasons for the extremely high mortality level, like the hot summer. Mr. Gordon, apparently blessed with the gift of understatement, told the Sun Herald that: “I’m not as encouraged about this season as I’d like to be.”

Look, I’ve sued oil companies for decades…so I know it’s a long, long way from dead oysters off the coast of Mississippi to proving BP’s oil spill destroyed the seafood industry. That’s why my colleagues and I are funding independent researchers in hopes of gathering our own evidence – but it’s still hard to see government officials at all levels tip-toe around BP’s responsibility. Why not say “well, the spill is the first suspect” instead of the weather?

This attitude is likely to come back to haunt us. And BTW, most of the people in the Sun Herald’s story had claims filed for economic damages, and almost none of them had been paid. That’s troubling for several reasons, but especially because they would be among those claims that we were told would be the easiest to pay.

See the story here: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/09/01/2446838/dmr-gulf-sample-shows-abundance.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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