Rally for the Truth

Rally for the Truth
Dean Blanchard, Karen Hopkins & Stephen Baldwin

Friday, September 3, 2010

Louisiana newspaper calls for BP to fix the oil spill's damage to the seafood industry

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2010 Louisiana newspaper calls for BP to fix the oil spill's damage to the seafood industry SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Times Picayune] - September 2, 2010 - EDITORIAL: President Barack Obama made it a point to get a shrimp po-boy when he was in town ­Sunday -- and not only because the famed sandwiches are so tasty. The president knows that BP's oil spill has seriously damaged the reputation of our seafood and that it will take a concerted effort to undo the harm. Unfortunately, BP doesn't seem to grasp the problem or its responsibility for it. The Jindal administration requested funding for a long-term comprehensive seafood certification and marketing plan more than three months ago. The state is asking for $173 million for five years with renewals after that based on three criteria: the results of tissue samples, landings that are at or above pre-spill levels and a restored market, with the overall value of seafood at or above pre-disaster levels. That is a reasonable request, and it is vitally important for South Louisiana's economic well being and for our way of life. BP has so far provided $13 million for monitoring and has stonewalled the state on the larger proposal. BP likes to say that it hasn't rejected claims related to the spill, but putting requests on hold for months on end amounts to the same thing. That's an unforgivable way to treat the people who make their living selling or serving seafood. Testing by the federal government so far has found the state's seafood to be safe, but getting consumers outside of Louisiana to feel comfortable eating it is another matter. Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposal includes not only certification that the harvest is safe but a marketing component to convey that message to the public. Since BP's well collapsed and started spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico in April, reports have filtered back that diners were wary of Louisiana seafood. 'I've had guys returning shrimp left and right saying, 'If it's from the Gulf of Mexico, we don't want it',' Todd Harding, wholesale operations director for the Lobster Place in New York City, said earlier this summer. That nervousness won't magically disappear just because the Deepwater Horizon well is no longer leaking and some fishing grounds have reopened. Alaska's experience after the Exxon Valdez spill offers a cautionary tale. Kevin Adams, a representative of that state's seafood industry, told marketing experts and seafood safety scientists in New Orleans earlier this month that it took 10 years to reverse the negative perceptions there. BP is working hard to repair the damage to its own brand. Now it needs to put up the money to repair Louisiana's brand. A $4 billion industry and the livelihoods of thousands of fishers, seafood market owners and restaurateurs depend upon it. © 2010 New Orleans Net LLC. All Rights Reserved. Ken Coons Seafood.com 1-781-861-1441 kencoons@seafood.com

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