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.