On August 16, many shrimping grounds in the Gulf of Mexico re-opened for harvesting as the Gulf shrimping season began. But, many shrimpers and fishermen are still concerned that their catch might not be safe to eat, since they fear it could be contaminated with oil and chemical dispersants from the BP oil spill.
Gulf seafood safety has sparked a vigorous debate among shrimpers. Some of them want to get back to work as soon as possible, while others worry that if even one person gets sick from their seafood, the Louisiana seafood industry could become crippled for years to come.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries has been testing Gulf seafood for safety since May 9 and insists all samples have come back clean. But, there is currently no approved test for chemical dispersants in seafood.
Tests may say seafood is safe to eat, but winning back the public's confidence is more difficult. The state of Louisiana is asking BP to fund a marketing campaign to build people's confidence about eating Gulf seafood again. The state has also asked BP to fund more extensivetesting to see how oil and dispersants affect seafood eggs and larvae. So far, the company has declined the request.
"I went out there and we made about four or five passes with the wheel, with the boat, stirred up the mud, and before you know it, oil was coming up. So these are the kind of areas that we need to distinguish where it's at, and these are the new places we need to keep closed." - Acy Cooper, Louisiana Shrimp Association
"So what are we going to do, sit here and starve to death? The scientists say there's nothing wrong with it." - Louisiana shrimper
"Now the well's capped, we need to start rebuilding our brand. It's going to take us years. We're looking at five years at least to rebuild our brand, and we need those dollars now from BP." - Ewell Smith, Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board
1. What does it mean when food is contaminated?
2. What parts of the U.S. have big seafood industries?
3. What do humans use oil for?
1. Why are shrimpers so divided about whether to go back to work? Do you think they should? Why or why not?
2. Would you purchase seafood that had come from the Gulf? Why or why not?
3. Based on what you saw in the video, do you think Gulf seafood has been adequately tested for safety? Why or why not?
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