Oil spill expected to be top topic at fisheries briefing


The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is expected to one of the high-interest topics at a public briefing on coastal fisheries programs and research conducted by The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources on Tuesday.

Read Hendon, a fisheries biologist organizing the program at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Caylor Auditorium at GCRL in Ocean Springs, said oil spill research results won’t be available during the briefing.

“Since we anticipate the bulk of the questions that are going to come during the open discussion to be oil spill related, I’m going to give a presentation of an overview of the oil spill damage assessment process,” Hendon said.

The free program includes an open forum discussion, door prizes and refreshments.

Speakers and topics are:

  • Hendon, spotted seatrout monitoring and oil spill damage assessment process overview.
  • Kerwin Cuevas, artificial reef program.
  • Jim Franks, cooperative tag and release program.

Hendon said none of the GCRL researchers are receiving money from BP PLC and their work will be used by the state and federal government in the legal process.

“We’ll be doing what we normally do and that’s compiling those data, analyzing those data and publishing those in peer-reviewed journals,” he said.

Initially there was concern among researchers that since the oil spill research would be used legally, there would be limits on publication rights, he said.

“It has since been decided that actually for the legal process it gives the study more credence if it has been

published, if it has gone through the peer review process, so it gives it a little more weight in terms of the legal environment.”

Researchers have to find the balance between keeping the public informed and being professionally responsible, he said.

“From the public’s perspective it is frustrating because they know we have research going on,” he said.

“Until you get through the entire scientific method and get to the validation the results to be responsible we don’t want to say too much.”

Hendon said attendance at the program has ranged from 40 to 100 people.

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

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