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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid