Disappearing La. speckled trout another blow to BP’s Big Lie


You can add speckled trout to the list.

Over the last several months, I’ve told you about all kinds of reports about serious problems to both the safety and available of Gulf seafood. Eyeless shrimp. Deformed crabs. Red snappers covered in lesions. Not to mention the days when the Gulf fleet returns to the dock with little catch at all, in waters that were once chock full of some of the tastiest seafood in the United States.

All of this happening in the 28 months since British Petroleum unleashed a 5 million barrel torrent of crude oil off the coast of Louisiana, prompting little doubt of a connection between the Deepwater Horizon spill and the mounting woes for the beleaguered fishermen who populate the coastline. It kind of puts the Big Lie to that multi-million-dollar barrage of BP ads trying to sell U.S. tourists that everything is back to normal down here — not to mention making a mockery of the fact that the Big Oil icon was also a “sustainability” partner of the just-concluded London Olympics.

Closer to home, the local press uncovers a new ecological horror virtually every couple of days. Indeed, evidence of new problems is actually mounting because it typically takes a couple of years for the harsh health effects of spilled oil to work its way through the marine food chain, and well as the reproductive cycle.

This Sunday, a fishing writer in the sports section of the New Orleans Times-Picayune spoke with Louisiana anglers trying to solve the mystery of disappearing speckled trout. Numerous locals said that the catch hasn’t been this bad since 1983, when a deep freeze affected conditions in the Gulf. This time, to most of these sportsmen, there was actually very little mystery:

Stu Scheer of Cocodrie Inside Charters, at 67 the most tenured coastal fishing guide in Louisiana, was careful to start with this disclaimer: “I have a theory, it’s not scientific — not based on any official studies — just my opinion.”

But then he added this codicil to his disclaimer: “But my opinion is based on 41 years of doing this — of fishing these same areas 12 months a year.”

And after a deep but short breath, he said this:

“It’s the BP oil spill. I think it wiped out our spawning class in 2010, and now we’re paying the price.”

What Scheer and other fishermen believe is that the oil — as well as the toxic dispersant deployed to try to make the oil go away — wiped out the trout’s spawning season in 2010. That had little impact on the catch in 2011 — indeed, anglers reported a fairly bountiful harvest last year — but with those fish gone, and with no spawn from 2010 to replace the depleted population, the speckled trout stock has collapsed. There’s one other disturbing point in the article: the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries continues to refuse to release any of its own data about the trout population. They insist upon maintaining a shroud of secrecy by linking it to potential future penalties against BP, but it’s hard not to wonder why they refuse to keep the public informed.

Meanwhile, BP continues to misinform the rest of the nation, but some folks are fighting back. Last week, I was contacted by a woman in Pennsylvania who is campaigning for the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to yank the oil company’s false advertising from the air. Her petition begins:

This petition is to urge the FCC to act immediately to have the British Petroleum tourism advertising be removed from all media. These videos purport that Gulf waters are safe, showing children swimming in clear water; that the seafood is back to pre-oil spill conditions, showing people eating shrimp, oysters and finfish, and; the beaches are free from oil and harmful toxins.


It is false advertising and false advertising is against the law.

She then documents the many ongoing environmental crimes and misdemeanors of BP that have devastated the Gulf, its beaches and its marine life – many of which have been documented on this blog. And she asks others to sign her petition to the FCC. It is a worthy effort, and I encourage anyone who shares my outrage about BP’s conduct to sign on. Because the longer that Big Oil is allowed to repeat its Big Lie to the American people, the harder it will be to erase.

To learn about the declining speckled trout catch in the Gulf, please read: http://www.nola.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2012/08/anglers_guides_say_trout_probl.html

To sign the petition to the FCC citing BP for false advertising, please go to: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/petition-to-stop-false-advertising-by-british/

© Smith Stag, LLC 2012 – All Rights Reserved

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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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