These are frightening times down on the Gulf Coast. No one seems to truly know how the recent oil spill can be contained, and what the final impact will be on both the local environment, and the local people and businesses who rely on this cherished eco-system for their livelihoods.
Thankfully—a thousand times thankfully—our live crawfish, and those grown by many of our neighbors, are unaffected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
We want to make this point plainly clear, because the last thing the Gulf Coast seafood industry needs is for unaffected seafood providers to suffer unnecessarily from all this fear and confusion.
Just google “Crawfish Oil Spill” and take a look at the sort of headlines that pop up:
- Oil Spill Poses Major Threat to Seafood Industry
- New Orleans without seafood gumbo?
- Oil spill’s unsavory toll.
- Spill could wipe seafood from shelves
- Oil leak’s cost could impact local seafood prices
It makes sense—what will happen to local seafood is the question lots of concerned people are asking. But according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, many safe local seafood businesses are getting swept up in the uncertainty, and are struggling to make their message clear:
“We are trying to get out ahead and make sure there’s no confusion with the national media,” said Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. “We jumped on this hard. We learned our lessons with Katrina.”
“Louisiana seafood is alive and well and healthy and safe, ” said Harlon Pearce, who owns Harlon’s LA Fish, chairs the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and is on the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council.
Seafood is a $2.4 billion industry in the state, with Louisiana providing a third of the domestic seafood in the contiguous 48 states, Smith said, noting that the state is the nation’s No. 1 producer of shrimp, oysters, blue crabs, crawfish and alligator, and the No. 2 producer of finfish.
One worry for Smith and Pearce is that their message about food safety is being drowned out.
“If (the national media) are not distorting it, they sometimes get it confused, ” Smith said of recent media reports.
Take for example Sunday’s announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that fishing is restricted in federal waters for at least 10 days in a 6,800-square-mile area between the mouth of the Mississippi River and Pensacola Bay.
“I saw headlines that said Gulf fisheries are closed, ” Smith said. “A defined area is closed, and no fishing should happen in that area. But look at that line going west to Texas. There’s no harm there.”
Along those same lines, a story in The Daily News Journal in East Rutherford, Tenn., noted: “Enjoy your boiled crawfish now. With the oil spill in the Gulf Coast spreading and the ecological damage still unfolding, there might not be any later.”
Pearce noted that west of the Mississippi River, all fishing cycles are normal. Crawfish farming and fishing is done further inland and so are unaffected as well.
As we’ve previously mentioned, when it comes to fresh, live Louisiana crawfish, these reports don’t apply. Let’s review some facts:
- All live Louisiana crawfish—including wild crawfish—grow in fresh inland waters, far away from the spill.
- While, yes, local environmental factors like rainfall and weather patterns play large roles in our ability to produce consistent crops year after year, conditions in the gulf do not effect our live crawfish crops.
- It’s possible that the oil spill’s effect on the larger economy could affect our production and distribution models, but it’s not like our crawfish are going to be covered in crude.
Just take a look at a map of Louisiana:
Approximate oil locations from April 27, 2010 to May 1, 2010, by NOAA, http://response.restoration.noaa.gov
(Click map to enlarge)
Our authentic live crawfish are grown near the town of Branch in Southern Louisiana, north of I-10 and west of the Mississippi River Delta. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill — while deeply saddening here — thankfully for us originated hundreds of miles away, and is mostly flowing towards the eastern side of the delta.
Visit us here on our Live Louisiana Crawfish Blog often. We’ll keep you updated.