Biscayne Bay Shrimper: “This Is Becoming a Dire Situation”


A story out of Miami about shrimpers facing “meager” catches and a deeply skeptical seafood market illustrates just how little we know about the ecological and economic impacts of the BP spill.

The “official” line is that these Florida shrimpers are too far away from the spill site for the oil and dispersants to be impacting their catches. An example of that faulty reasoning comes in a Miami Herald report from Ryan Gandy, a crustacean research scientist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, who says that “…there’s a lot of concern over the oil spill, but we don’t have any indication that we’ve had those effects here.”

But, the Herald adds, “…the fishermen worry that the oil and dispersant used on the spill may have killed spawning shrimp and their larvae, decreasing the numbers here.” Opa-locka seafood dealer Jorge Fundora: “We’ve seen very little shrimp compared to past years. We usually get a good December and January run, and we didn’t get it.”

So, if you “don’t have any indication” of BP spill effects in Florida as Mr. Gandy claims, then you must figure the mysterious and precipitous drop in supply is merely coincidental. That line of thinking seems beyond naive – particularly when you consider all the independent research finding toxins in Gulf waters. Listen, when you buy into the official national narrative that it’s “Mission Accomplished,” then things that seem obvious to the rest of us seem mysterious to you. My colleagues and I have fought against the government’s “all clear” declaration (see previous posts) for months, because we know – based on hard scientific research – that Gulf seafood does indeed contain significant levels of toxins and should only be consumed with that knowledge.

As for the economic impacts, we will continue to face a skeptical Gulf seafood market until adequate testing and safeguards are in place. And, unfortunately, the current system lacks the needed tests and, frankly, nobody gives much credibility to the agencies conducting those tests.

The bottom line is that the BP spill is impacting all aspects of the Gulf environment and economy. There are billions of dollars set aside to help compensate the residents, and we need to realize that we really just don’t know the full effects yet – and may not know for years. Just ask the South Florida shrimpers.

Here’s the Miami Herald story:

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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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