From the Gulf Restoration Network.
Recently, headlines loudly proclaimed great news in the fish harvest totals released by NOAA for 2011. "Gulf seafood catch reaches 12-year high", "Louisiana seafood catch rebounds in 2011" & "U.S. seafood landings reach 17-year high in 2011".Read the rest of the report HERE.
Wow, sounds great. Unfortunately, digging beneath the headlines reveals a less glowing report from Gulf waters.
The most significant increase in Gulf catch comes from the uncontained, uncapped, Gulf menhaden harvest. Going from 900 million pounds on average for the past 10 years, they lept to 1.3 billion pounds in 2011.
In other species, catch totals weren't nearly so rosy. Louisiana oysters were significantly off their ten year average, Louisiana white and brown shrimp were similarly off their 10 year average. Louisiana blue crab were down from their 10 year average. In Mississippi, things were so bleak that a federal fisheries disaster was declared for their oyster and crab fisheries.
So yes, buoyed by an enormous menhaden catch, which is a high-volume, low-value fishery, the Gulf's totals were increased, but wherever BP's oil impacts were significant, shrimp and crab harvests were off their ten year average.
The AP told this story well ahead of these rosy headlines last year, when they analyzed catch information for specific areas, and warned that problems were afoot.
And so it goes.