GULF OF MEXICO – An area of the Gulf of Mexico currently closed to shrimpers could soon reopen. That’s despite conflicting reports of oil being found out there.
This is the area currently closed, which is often a hot spot for royal red shrimp, but that closure is set to expire on February 2nd.
What different people are saying about the oil that’s still out there and whether the area should be reopened.
NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Division is doing tests in that area with shrimping nets just like these. But what type of oil these nets are picking up differs depending on who you ask.
“Give me two more pounds of royal red.” Like a lot of people, Snowbird Ron Bowsfield comes to Joe Patti’s Seafood specifically for the royal red shrimp.
“Well I can’t get it any other place, and other wise it’s from Taiwan and that’s not to fresh either.”
But this winter Ron isn’t buying royal reds that were caught in the Gulf of Mexico. “Royal reds I’m getting out of Antarctica.”
And owner Frank Patti says he won’t get any royal reds from the gulf even if NOAA reopens that closed area next month.
“I want to know when the oil is gone, then I feel safe to tell my customers this is oil free. And until that time, to hell with it. I’m gonna get mine from places I know there is no oil at.”
Patti says a friend with a shrimping boat is working for NOAA in that area and told him his nets came out of the water covered in oil.
“He was in 1,225 feet of water and one side was loaded with oil the other side didn’t have any oil it had some tarballs in it and a few shrimp. But the other side was polluted.”
But NOAA’s seafood safety manager says Patti’s claims are exaggerated. Doctor John Stein told me the shrimping nets were covered in an abnormally high number of unweathered gooey tarballs but that it technically wasn’t liquid oil.
“I don’t know how they come across with all this bologna I’m mean we all want the problem to go away, but I want the oil to go away, not just the problem.”
Patti says his friend has no reason to lie to him, but no matter if it was liquid oil or tarballs Doctor Stein says no decision has been made on reopening that area. And it will not be reopened unless it is deemed safe.