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Serve Gulf Seafood With Confidence:
Among “most tested in the world”

Apr 11, 2011

Of all the wild speculation circulated after the 2010 BP oil spill, rumors that did the most damage in the affected Gulf states were ones that suggested fish, shrimp, oysters, and other Gulf products were not safe to eat. Unsubstantiated fears all but tanked the region’s seafood industry.

For an overview of the ripple effects of that economic hit, check out our report: “A Roadmap to Resilience.” Download it here (6.8mb pdf).

Now that we’re going into what’s likely to be a week of frenzied media coverage on the anniversary of the spill (April 20), it’s time to set the record straight. First, the science. Here’s what LaDon Swann, director of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, told the Mobile Press-Register for its Sunday, April 10, story:

“The testing shows conclusively that our seafood was not tainted by oil or dispersants. It is important that the tests are ongoing, and if we ever see any reason to be concerned, we will absolutely make that known. But I cannot find any credible data to contradict the array of federal data showing that it’s safe. It’s basically just a consumer confidence issue at this point.”

And here’s a clip of Dr. Swann addressing those same issues for a Coastal Recovery Commission documentary to be released soon:

On April 13 at 10 a.m. scientists and researchers from the University of South Alabama (USA) will address broad topics about impacts of the oil spill in a press conference co-sponsored by the USA and the newly formed Coastal Alabama Leadership Council (CALC). The press conference will be web-streamed live and will be recorded for downloading later. The link to the web stream will be posted on this website Tuesday, April 12.

The CALC is a regional non-profit created to fulfill one of the principal proposals of the Coastal Recovery Commission’s “Roadmap to Resilience” report. Working with existing business groups, non-profits and government agencies, the new Council will facilitate implementation of other report recommendations. That work begins with co-sponsoring the April 13 press conference with USA and with supporting an aggressive campaign explaining ways in which a variety of agencies, non-profits and seafood industry organizations are assuring the safety of Gulf seafood.

The campaign, titled “Serve the Gulf,” was conceived as a pro bono effort by the Birmingham-based Big Communications agency and The Mobile Press-Register to build on the grass roots movement in support of Coastal Alabama’s all-important seafood industry and to connect with the efforts of Gulf-wide seafood industry organizations.

“The idea was to find a voice for the Alabama seafood community before the anniversary of the spill,” said Chris Nelson, regional seafood community leader and Vice President of Bon Secour Fisheries. “We felt confident that if we got the message right, the movement would continue to build and new supporters would step forward.”

Nelson, who is also a member of CALC, said “Serve the Gulf” fits within the mission of the organization to promote a regional perspective for environmental protection, societal health, and economic development. Such a perspective includes the need to expand state-focused seafood marketing programs to one that encompasses all the Gulf states. The “Serve the Gulf” campaign could meet that need.

Thanks to financial support from the Alabama Tourist Department, the “Serve the Gulf” campaign has been expanded to include commercial ads, a website and a variety of promotional materials. Everything you need to know is here.

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We invite questions and suggestions about our process and goals. The online rules are the same as they'd be if we were meeting in person. We'll respect one another and keep on topic. And we'll work together to shape strategies that will make for a better, safer, more resilient South Alabama.

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  • Headline

    A once-in-a generation opportunity is upon us. A transformational moment in Alabama history.

    That’s how Gov. Bob Riley described hopes for the Coastal Recovery Commission (CRC) of Alabama, created by his executive order on September 27, 2010.

    The CRC’s mission: To shape, in the wake of BP’s Deep Water Horizon oil spill, “a roadmap to resilience” for South Alabama.

    “We must do everything we can to restore what’s been lost because of this disaster,” said Gov. Riley. “But we should also use this moment to strengthen the resilience of our state and coastal communities. The commission will recommend ways that improve our ability to respond to future challenges and examine strategies that will mean far less suffering the next time a catastrophe threatens us.”

    The CRC’s work is funded entirely with BP money already contributed to the state. No tax dollars will be used. What’s more, Gov. Riley took pains to insulate the Commission as much as possible from politics as usual. Since he leaves office in January, he’s acutely aware that the recommendations of the Commission will be in another governor’s hands. So he’s reached out to the political camps of both men vying to replace him, inviting them to appoint their own representatives to the Commission to participate in shaping a report that should inspire the new governor no matter who wins in the November elections.

    What’s more, Gov. Riley is asking local elected officials to give the Commission a little room to work. “We’ll bring politicians in,” said the governor. “But this will be a citizen-led – not a politician-led – effort. If we do that, I promise you it will be successful.”

    The CRC is made up of citizen leaders with broad ranges of experience in civic life in Alabama’s coastal region. It’s headed by Mobile Press-Register publisher Ricky Mathews, who brings to this effort the experience of a similar commission in the post-Hurricane Katrina environment of coastal Mississippi. For a complete list of CRC members, go here.

    “What we learned after Katrina on the Mississippi Coast,” said Mathews, “is that a crisis of even enormous proportions provides opportunities to re-imagine a whole region.

    “If we do our work on this commission right,” Mathews said, “we can position South Alabama for not only bouncing back more effectively from future catastrophes like oil spills and hurricanes but also for providing greater security and more opportunity for all of our citizens, even when there are no emergencies. That’s the essence of resiliency.”

    Forging consensus on what the oil spill’s impacts were and how to make the coast safer for citizens and visitors and more secure for long-term investment is tough enough. Implementing the Commission’s recommendations next year and in the years after will be harder – if the Commission is not able to begin building coalitions of support during this process. “If we’re to make the most of this opportunity,” said Mathews, “we have to begin thinking bigger and broader than we ever have.

    “Oil spills and hurricanes don’t just threaten isolated spots on a map,” said Mathews. “Their effects reverberate through an entire state, through a region even. So our chances for coping with future threats depend upon us building a regional vision, an awareness of how we’re connected with one another and how we can work with one another to do more than any of us as individual citizens or individual communities ever imagined.”

    This is a project on a fast track. At some point – no one knows exactly when – there is the potential for billions of dollars to flow to the coastal states from BP and from other energy-related sources. To assure that Alabama is positioned to make the most of this potential investment, “we need a plan,” said Gov. Riley. And it has to come quickly.

    So the Commission is committed to delivering its report by Dec. 15, initially as a downloadable pdf from this website. Printed books will be available soon thereafter.

    The Commission is organizing its work under three broad topics, each connected with the other and each representing a key component of regional adaptability and sustainability:

    A Healthy Environment
    A Healthy Society
    A Healthy Economy

    Commission members are assigned to each of the topics and will break the broader categories into sub-committees as they see fit. We’ll report on the activities of those committees and sub-committees on this website regularly.

    This is a very public process. Participation of regional experts, elected and appointed officials from all the towns and counties affected by the oil spill, regional business folks, and residents will have plenty of opportunities to review CRC work in progress and contribute their ideas and comments. They’ll be able to do that in person at community meetings, by mail or phone, and online via this website.

    Here’s how to make the best use of this site:



    If you want to know who’s on the Commission and who’s staffing it, click on the WHO tab in the toolbar above.

    If you want to understand the CRC’s mission, get answers to frequently asked questions, and see background data committees are gathering, click on the WHAT & WHY tab.

    If you want to know the schedule of public events and locations for meetings, click on the WHEN & WHERE tab.

    If you want to contact us directly, you’ll find information under CONTACT US, and at the bottom of each news post in the column to the left, is space for comments and questions.

    If you want to read or see what others are saying about the CRC effort, we’ll post links and documens under IN THE NEWS.





    This is going to move fast. So keep in touch. We need your participation.







  • PROCESS VIDEOS
    To see how the CRC based its work on the experiences of those most affected by the oil spill, click this video below:
    Click this video to watch our mid-course update:
    Click this video to explore the CRC's goals and principles:
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