BP must pay to restore nation’s confidence in Louisiana’s seafood


BP’s decision to provide $13 million to monitor the effects of its oil spill on Louisiana seafood for three years falls far short of what is needed to restore confidence in this critical, $4 billion industry, and the state is right to press the oil giant for more.

Two months ago, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration asked BP to fund a five-year, $173 million long-term comprehensive seafood certification and marketing plan. The plan includes options of renewing every three years up to 20 based on three criteria: the results of tissue samples, landings that are at or above pre-spill levels and a restored market, with the overall value of seafood at or above pre-disaster levels.

“This is an important first step — and we thank BP for this investment,” Gov. Jindal said about the $13 million, which will be used to monitor the spill’s effect on Louisiana fisheries. “However, this is only a first step, and we need the next step to happen in the next days or the next week — not next month or next year,” Gov. Jindal said.

What the state is requesting is reasonable, and it’s discouraging that BP has not yet agreed to it. Monitoring alone won’t restore consumer confidence in Louisiana’s seafood. People need to know that the seafood harvested off our shores is being tested and found safe. That will require an aggressive marketing effort, but BP has not addressed that.

“We want the world to know that Louisiana seafood is not only safe, but continues to be the best seafood in the world,” Gov. Jindal said.

The governor’s concern is well-placed. Kevin Adams, a representative of Alaska’s seafood industry, recounted the damage that the Exxon Valdez oil spill did to the image of his state’s seafood at a meeting of marketing experts and seafood safety scientists in New Orleans earlier this month. He said it took 10 years to reverse the negative perception.

Restaurateur Ralph Brennan, who also attended that meeting, suggested asking BP how much it’s spending to rehabilitate its corporate image after the spill and “ask them to match that for us.”

Gov. Jindal called the seafood industry “unique and integral to our economy and the very fabric of our state.” That’s not an exaggeration, and BP must not ignore the damage it has done to Louisiana%2

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

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