by Lisa Garber
Years since the initial catastrophe, the fishing community is still suffering from the effects of the BP oil spill. “It’s getting worse and worse every year,” says Dean Blanchard, owner of Dean Blanchard Seafood on Grand Isle.
Fishermen’s Livelihood at Risk
Though many fishing seasons have reopened since 2011, many seafood docks report that production has been cut in half since the spill. Fishermen must travel farther to find water and sea life less affected by the spill.
“The guys that can go offshore make a living, but it is at a greater expense. They have to burn more fuel and be away from home.” Local, smaller fishers, crabbers, and shrimpers are having less luck.
“We still have areas in the Barataria Basin that haven’t reopened to fishing since the spill.” Clint Guidry, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association refers to fishing statistics indicating that Gulf fishing has rebounded since the spill. “Unless you look at a basin-specific data, especially in the areas impacted heavily by oil, you’re not seeing the whole picture…. These figures seem to paint a rosy picture…. And it’s not.”
Highly Contaminated Sea Life
Seafood continues to show very high contamination levels, though the Food and Drug Administration isn’t batting an eye. Other government bodies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, are no friends of the general populace, either When Corexit—an endocrine-disrupting dispersant—was used after the oil spill, the EPA misrepresented its toxicity, to the detriment of consumers and local fishers alike (not to mention sea life).
Although fish mercury levels and contamination are something to consider and look out for, (especially with recent news that ties mercury to ADHD in pregnant mothers and their unborn children later in life), this information shouldn’t cause consumers to forever ignore fish. Safer alternatives are essential to every diet for proper intake of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. Here are some fish to avoid:
- King mackerel
Here are some fish to eat:
- Non-GMO salmon
- Smaller fish like bluegill, crappie, and perch
Be wary, too, of fresh water fish high in mercury. The most polluted areas according to a 2009 study were “blackwater streams” in Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida, and Louisiana. There, wooded wetlands “enhance the conversion of mercury from its inorganic form in the atmosphere to a more toxic organic form.”
Brigham and Women’s Hospital of the Harvard School of Public Health assistant professor Susan Korrick suggests consuming three to four servings of fatty, low-mercury seafood daily for optimum health. Such a diet has been shown to correlate with improved cognitive function.