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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Louisiana Dept. of Fish and Wildlife official says BP about to cut and run, abandoning obligations

Louisiana Dept. of Fish and Wildlife official says BP about to cut and run, abandoning obligations SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [The News-Star] By Greg Hilburn (c) Copyright 2010, The News-Star, Monroe. All Rights Reserved. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham blasted BP on Wednesday, saying he fears the company will soon cut and run from its long-term obligations following the Gulf oil spill. 'They're going into lawyer mode now,' Barham said when speaking during the Ouachita River Valley Association's annual conference at the Monroe Civic Center. 'They won't respond when we make requests. Everything we ask from them is delayed. 'I'm afraid they're about to say, 'The well is capped, the seafood is safe to eat, we're done'.' Barham, an Oak Ridge native, said all of his 235 wildlife agents have rotated on 'tours of duty for the spill.' 'The seafood is safe to eat, but there's a difference between consumption and the future viability of the fishery,' he said. 'Our fear is that some small link that is critical to the food chain could be broken.' Barham said the state has asked BP to fund a 20-year study of the fishery, beginning with a five-year block of research that would continue to track the spill's effects on the Gulf. 'Right now BP only wants to fund short-term research,' Barham said. He is especially concerned about the sub-sea dispersant BP used during the spill. 'BP experimented by injected sub-sea dispersants into the richest marine environment in the world,' Barham said. 'Nobody knows what the reaction of the dispersant and oil will be.' Barham said the Exxon Valdez oil spill continues to have a negative effect on Alaskan fisheries. 'In Alaska they totally lost the herring fisheries, and salmon have been on a steady decline because oil came into contact with the eggs,' he said. 'That was 22 years ago. 'That's why we need BP to do what they say they're going to do in their (TV) commercials, which is stay here for the long term. It's going to take years of research and study before we'll be able to tell you what you knew before will be there for your grandchildren.' Asked about his impression of former BP chief executive Tony Heyward, who was eventually removed from his post, Barham said, 'The only times he opened his mouth was to change feet.' 'This happened at the worst place at the worst time,' Barham said of the spill. 'It will shape the Gulf for years to come.' John Sackton, Editor And Publisher Seafood.com News 1-781-861-1441 Email comments to jsackton@seafood.com

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