News / USA

    In Louisiana, Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Stymies Oyster Harvest

    John Lapper examines oyster for research by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Marine Fisheries and Louisiana State University
    John Lapper examines oyster for research by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Marine Fisheries and Louisiana State University

    Multimedia

    Zulima Palacio

    Until the BP oil spill almost three months ago, the oyster industry in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest in the U.S, with Louisiana leading the pack.  But since then, more than half of its operations have been suspended.  And the largest oyster research project in the region is on hold, forced to move away from the slick.

    This was the largest oyster research farm in the Gulf of Mexico, until the oil spill.  It is located in Grand Isle, one of the coastal areas most affected by the spill.

    The research was aimed at breeding oysters that would remain fat through the summer. But because of the spill, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Marine Fisheries and Louisiana State University were forced to move most of the oysters about 500 kilometers away.

    "We had about over 2000 oysters deployed in our farm and these are the result of over 10 years worth of research and we moved the oysters to Rockefeller Refuge," said Louisiana State University Professor John Supan who directs the research.  "We were just at the point where the research results were about to be commercialized."  

    Oil has not been sighted at the research farm yet.   

    A few weeks after the spill, BP placed booms around it, in a bid to protect the facility. But researchers were concerned about water contamination.

    "I have always been more concerned about the invisible of the spill than the visible portions of the spill," added Supan.

    John Lapper and Sandra Casas also work at the research farm.  They collected some of the oysters that were left behind, checked on their health, and removed offspring that didn't belong in the study.

    Supan says traditionally oysters get fat in the winter, but after they spawn, they lose much of their weight.   The researchers say they found a way to keep the oysters fat in the summer.   

    "We have a breeding program that would result in oysters that have a higher meat yield in it during the summer time," explained Supan.   

    This oyster is only two years old.  But it's the size of a 4-year-old.  

    Supan says oysters that stay fat through the summer could be an economic boon for local fisheries.

    "You can produce an oyster that has a high meat yield in the summer when traditionally you can't do that," explained Supan.

    The research project is mostly on hold now.  And so is Louisiana's oyster industry, the largest in the Gulf.  

    "On average, Louisiana produces about 12 million pounds of shucked oyster meat a year," he noted.  "About 60 percent of our production is closed because of the threat of oil."

    At LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, Professor Julie Anderson is a fishery specialist.  She is pessimistic about the long term outcome for the region's marine life.

    "Most of the fish, shrimp, blue crab they are spawning out in the Gulf right now, and any of those really small larvae fish and crab, is probably going to be killed if they encounter the actual oil spill," said Anderson.  "So it could be a couple of years before we see the true impacts of the oil spill."

    For the last 200 years, neither overfishing, illness or climate change stopped the oyster industry in the Gulf of Mexico.  Now, the oil spill may.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora