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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid