Governor Jindal Announces Funding for Fishery Resource Monitoring Program, Calls on BP to Fund Long-Term Seafood Plan

Release Date: 08/18/2010

 

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that BP has agreed to fund a three-year, $13 million fishery-resource monitoring plan and he also called on BP to fund the state's long-term comprehensive seafood certification and marketing plan that was submitted nearly two months ago. The Governor stressed that the fishery-resource monitoring plan is only a first step and BP's approval of a seafood certification and marketing plan is critical to ensuring the long-term viability of the seafood industry in Louisiana.

Governor Jindal said, "This is an important first step - and we thank BP for this investment. However, this is only a first step and we need the next step to happen in the next days or the next week - not next month or next year. We have been asking for approval of our comprehensive seafood safety and testing plan for months now and the time to act is now. This is one of the most critical issues facing our state as we work to recover from the effects of this spill.

"We must quickly put in place a comprehensive testing program that will give the public and the market predictability and confidence in our seafood industry. We want the world to know that Louisiana seafood is not only safe, but continues to be the best seafood in the world. The seafood industry is unique and integral to our economy and the very fabric of our state. We need BP to approve this plan in days, not months."

For the event, the Governor was joined by Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, St. Bernard Parish President Billy Nungesser, Harlon's LA Fishing owner Harlon Pearce, Lake Pontchartrain Fisherman's Association Peter Gerica, Louisiana Restaurant Association President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Funk, Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board Executive Director Ewell Smith, Pascal's Restaurant Owner Mark DeFelice.

LONG-TERM SEAFOOD CERTIFICATION AND MARKETING PLAN

The state submitted the long-term seafood safety plan to BP on May 29th to fund the creation of a Louisiana Wild Seafood Certification Program that will enable the state to oversee seafood processing from catch to retail. This will allow Louisiana seafood harvesters and processors to certify that their products adhere to best practices, guaranteeing quality for American consumers and demonstrating that people in Louisiana stand behind their products.

The state's new, revised long-term seafood safety plan calls for an initial five-year cost of $173 million and there are automatic renewals based on objective criteria. Specifically, the initial five-year cost for this program totals $173 million. Three criteria will be used to determine the success of the initial five years of work. The first will be that tissue sample results show no indicators that oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill is present. The second is that landings of major species of seafood - shrimp, crabs, oysters and fish - are at or above pre-spill levels.  The third component is that markets are restored and the overall value of seafood is at or above pre-spill amounts. If these conditions are not met by the end of the fifth year, the state is asking BP to fund an additional three years of the project. The renewal will continue if these conditions are not met for up to 20 years

IMPORTANCE OF LOUISIANA'S SEAFOOD INDUSTRY

There are around 12,260 commercial fishing licenses in Louisiana and over 1,500 seafood dealers/processors and brokers in Louisiana.

Louisiana produces nearly one-third of the domestic seafood for the continental U.S. Seventy percent of the seafood production in the Gulf of Mexico comes from Louisiana fishers, shrimpers and oyster harvesters. Louisiana is second only to Alaska in terms of commercial fisheries production and home to three of the top seven commercial fishing ports in the country. In Louisiana, around one billion pounds of fisheries products worth over $272 million are produced every year.

In recent years, Louisiana commercial fishermen landed significant portions of the total U.S. commercial harvest, including 35 percent of shrimp, 36 percent of oysters, 56 percent of the Gulf menhaden, 27 percent of blue crab, 55 percent of black drum, 23 percent of all snapper species and 20 percent of yellowfin tuna.

FISHERY-RESOURCE MONITORING PROGRAM

The fishery-resource monitoring program will enable biologists from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to conduct a three-year study on the effects of the oil spill on Louisiana's fisheries resources.  The core components of the plan include monitoring Louisiana's inshore aquatic resources, which will allow biologists to quantify the impact of the oil spill on inshore fishery resources by enhancing monitoring and sampling approaches.

This study also includes monitoring Louisiana's near shore aquatic resources, which will provide fishery-independent monitoring and assessment information essential to the management of Louisiana's Gulf of Mexico fisheries. This study also includes monitoring Louisiana's sensitive reef fish complex, which will help gather information on demographics of several native species of reef fish, including red snapper, on the Louisiana continental shelf. If damages around found after the three years of the study, the state can ask BP for an extension or use legal avenues available under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process.

For more information contact Joey Shepard at 225-765-2384 or jshepard@wlf.la.gov.