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Governor Jindal Calls on BP to Fund Louisiana’s Long-Term Seafood Safety Plan

VENICE (August 2, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal met with commercial fishermen at Cypress Cove Marina in Venice and called on BP to fund the state’s long-term seafood safety plan. Calling the plan part of BP’s obligation to fully restoring the coast, Governor Jindal said the plan is critical to ensuring the long-term viability of the industry in Louisiana.

Governor Jindal said, “Much of our water is now reopened to recreational fishing and now our commercial fishing is beginning to come back. As we move forward with more re-openings, this is absolutely a critical time to put in place a long-term recovery plan for our Louisiana seafood industry.

“We submitted proposals to BP to conduct a five-year fishery resource-monitoring plan and to increase testing and sampling. We need BP to approve this plan right away so we can move forward on our plan to conduct 400 samplings of shrimp, crab, oysters, and finfish each month in all coastal parishes and waters to guarantee the safety of the state’s seafood and fisheries and to complement the ongoing water sampling.

“Under our seafood plan, the state will also ramp up monitoring and sampling activities to expedite knowledge of fishery areas that are safe so Louisiana can open these waters and get fishermen back in their boats as soon as possible.

“We also submitted a long-term 20-year seafood safety plan to BP on May 29, 2010, to fund the creation of a Louisiana Wild Seafood Certification Program that will enable us to oversee seafood processing from catch to retail. This will allow our Louisiana seafood harvesters and processors to certify that their products adhere to best practices, guaranteeing quality for American consumers and demonstrating that people in Louisiana stand behind their products. Again – we call on BP to immediately approve the funding for this long-term seafood safety and marketing plan. We want the world to know that Louisiana seafood is not only safe – but continues to be the best seafood in the world.”

On Wednesday of last week, the Governor joined leaders from sportfishing and conservation associations to go deep sea fishing in the Gulf as part of his Agenda for Revitalizing Louisiana. On his trip, the party caught both mangrove snapper and cobia. This past weekend, the Governor and his family grilled and ate the mangrove snapper.

The Governor was joined by Center for Coastal Conservation President Jeff Angers, American Sportfishing Association President and CEO Mike Nussman, International Game Fish Association President Rob Kramer, Sport Fishing Magazine Editor Doug Olander, and Tide Magazine Editor Ted Venker.

Last week, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fishers (LDWF) in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ordered an emergency reopening of commercial fishing areas that were previously closed due to the BP oil spill. Commercial fishing reopened specifically for finfish and shrimp in portions of state waters east of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Tammany, St. Bernard Parishes and here in Plaquemines.

These reopenings were ordered following the completion of comprehensive testing by the NOAA in consultation with the FDA. The FDA advised that following extensive sensory testing and analytical chemistry results, the fish samples tested from previously closed areas are safe for consumption.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) also opened oyster areas 1, 4, and 6 last week. These areas are also east of the Mississippi River, but away from the Chandeleur Sound area.

LDWF continues to push for the FDA to reopen crab fishing in these newly opened areas as well. Federal officials told the state that testing crabmeat takes longer than the tissue samples of shrimp and finfish. The state is asking them to conclude this testing as quickly as possible so these areas can also be opened to crabbers.

Governor Jindal said, “This is certainly great news for our oystermen, fishermen and seafood processors who have been sidelined because of the oil spill. Our commercial fishermen supply one-third of the domestic seafood that is eaten in the continental United States and this reopening helps to ensure that restaurants and consumers will continue to be supplied with safe and quality seafood from Louisiana.

“We opened waters for commercial seafood in consultation with the FDA not only to ensure safety, but also to protect our first-class brand of our seafood. While these reopenings are a positive step, we continue to urge the FDA to test samples from the waters that remain closed so commercial fishermen across our coast can get back on the water.

“This is another part of our ongoing work to revitalize Louisiana. Our people want to go back to work. They don’t want a BP check or an unemployment check. We know our fishermen want to be back out there on the water doing the work they love. We are doing everything we can to make sure they get back out there as quickly as possible.

“Of course, there are still many areas that remain closed to commercial fishing – including the Chandeleur Sound area east of the river and the area from the mouth of the Mississippi River over west past the Houma Navigation Canal – which includes the Grand Isle area. We have sent thousands of samples to the FDA and we are working with them to reopen these areas as soon as the waters are safe. We want our fishermen to be back out on the water.”

Governor Jindal said, “We met with parish leaders last week and again over the weekend to develop a transition plan that outlines the conditions and steps under which boom, skimmers, sorbents and other oil protection and removal-related equipment will be shifted, downsized or removed. We also met with Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft this weekend to make it clear that no boom, skimmers or other equipment should be withdrawn until the parishes, state and Coast Guard agree upon a transition plan.

“An estimate from the federal government indicates that as much as 1.5 million barrels of oil may remain unaccounted for in the Gulf. Oil and sheen were observed from the Chandeleurs to Lafourche Parish just last week. Now is not the time to withdraw resources or capabilities. It is important that we don’t just look at the oil on the surface, but also the oil that remain below the surface.

“The parishes and state will continue to fight to protect our coast, our communities and our way of life in Louisiana.”



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