News Roundup: Shrimp season and seafood safety

seafood inspection sniff_test NOAA

During inspection, Gulf seafood undergoes an initial sniff test, photo courtesy of NOAA

Yesterday marked the first day of white shrimp season in Louisiane since the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster began, but the normal rush and crowd of fishing boats was absent from Gulf waters. New York Times reports the worries of shrimp industry officials about consumer confidence that underlies the whole network of fishermen, ice makers, processors and distributors that brings more than $100 million to the state each year.

Federal officials have said the shrimp is safe to eat.  But the Washington Post reports that some fishermen and their families worried that the government’s testing was inadequate — and that how it could affect the industry should any diners wound up with a plate of oil-tainted seafood.

Scientists are particularly concerned with the effect of the spill on eggs and larvae of Gulf creatures such as crabs. Fortunately, a Smithsonian Institution’s collection of life in the Gulf of Mexico prior to the spill may provide some answers to how the creatures will fare. Read NPR’s story about the fortuitous catalogue of un-oiled life in the Gulf.

Meanwhile, the Interior Department announced it would restrict the use of exemptions of environmental reviews for deepwater drilling operations in Gulf waters, allowing them only in instances of “limited environmental risk.” Offshore drilling expert and Defenders senior policy advisor Richard Charter told the Times-Picayune, “It looks like the secretary is trying not to be rushed back into a business-as-usual mode.” And while “nobody thinks Deepwater Horizon is going to shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico,” there is an expectation that the administration is going to remedy the track record of government negligence by creating a new system of more rigorous safeguards.