Showing posts with label seafood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seafood. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eyeless shrimp, mutant crabs, oozing fish

If you live on the Gulf Coast -- and if you care to know how screwed you are -- you might want to listen more to Al Jazeera and less to local ostriches who can't see the blind shrimp for the sandy tar balls in their eyes.

Short version of the Arab TV network's report from Louisiana: BP did a real number on the Gulf, the marshes and every form of sea life out there. Longer version: The feds say Gulf seafood is safe to eat -- that is, while there still
is Gulf seafood . . . and if you don't mind eyeless shrimp, mutant crabs that rot from the inside before they're dead and seafood with sores and lesions all over it.

That's not what people want to hear, however, which is making life really easy (not) for the researchers bearing the bad news, being that facts are a bitch.

Here's an excerpt from the print version of the story:

"The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I've never seen anything like this either."

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan's findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP's oil and dispersants.

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP's 2010 oil disaster.

Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees' fingers point towards BP's oil pollution disaster as being the cause.

Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.

"At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these," Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.

According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP's oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: "Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets."

"Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico]," she added, "They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don't have their usual spikes … they look like they've been burned off by chemicals."


Dr Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University, co-authored the report Genomic and physiological footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on resident marsh fishes that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2011.

Whitehead's work is of critical importance, as it shows a direct link between BP's oil and the negative impacts on the Gulf's food web evidenced by studies on killifish before, during and after the oil disaster.

"What we found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil," Whitehead told Al Jazeera during an interview in his lab.

According to Whitehead, the killifish is an important indicator species because they are the most abundant fish in the marshes, and are known to be the most important forage animal in their communities.

"That means that most of the large fish that we like to eat and that these are important fisheries for, actually feed on the killifish," he explained. "So if there were to be a big impact on those animals, then there would probably be a cascading effect throughout the food web. I can't think of a worse animal to knock out of the food chain than the killifish."

But we may well be witnessing the beginnings of this worst-case scenario.

Whitehead is predicting that there could be reproductive impacts on the fish, and since the killifish is a "keystone" species in the food web of the marsh, "Impacts on those species are more than likely going to propagate out and effect other species. What this shows is a very direct link from exposure to DWH oil and a clear biological effect. And a clear biological effect that could translate to population level long-term consequences."

Back on shore, troubled by what he had been seeing, Keath Ladner met with officials from the US Food and Drug Administration and asked them to promise that the government would protect him from litigation if someone was made sick from eating his seafood.

"They wouldn't do it," he said.

"I'm worried about the entire seafood industry of the Gulf being on the way out," he added grimly.
WE NOW return you to our previously scheduled BP propaganda spots and "Remain calm. All is well!" platitudes from state and federal officials.

HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Just give the man what he wants

I don't care if you don't got no crawfish lef', cher!

If da man come in and say he want da crawfish, you go and get da man some crawfish, y'unnerstand? You go an' get da man his mudbugs, Cap.

It is always better for da customer to be suckin' da heads rather than lickin' the toads. Especially when he packin' da heat.

THIS CAUTIONARY TALE about what happens to those who come between a political extremist and his crawfish comes to us via the Pensacola News Journal. Read it and heed it:
A manic shooter peppered a busy Ensley retail strip with assault rifle fire Sunday evening because a local seafood market ran out of crawfish, investigators said.

Larry Wayne Kelly, 42, of Pensacola is in county jail on $575,000 bond facing a slew of felony charges.

Kelly's lead-filled rampage erupted about 7 p.m. when Escambia County deputies received a flood of calls reporting a man speeding through Ensley, blasting an AK-47 assault rifle from the window of a pickup truck.

At one point, Kelly got out of the vehicle and fired numerous shots at the storefront of L&T Seafood Market on Pensacola Boulevard, about two blocks south of Wal-Mart, witnesses said.

Two hours earlier, Kelly allegedly called the seafood market to order crawfish and became "incredibly irate" when an employee said the store didn't have any, according to a Sheriff's Office report.


Kelly claimed to be a "sovereign citizen," telling deputies he does not have to follow the law or obey law enforcement officers, deputies said. Also found in the truck was the book "The Sociopath Next Door."

According to a 2010 FBI briefing paper: "Sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or 'sovereign' from the United States. As a result, they believe they don't have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments or law enforcement."

REMEMBER, ladies and germs, while the tree of liberty must from time to time be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants, it also must be regularly fertilized with the remains of boiled crawfish.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

To shrimp, or not to shrimp

You don't need to pick up Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet to partake of a good Shakespearean tragedy.

All you have to do is head down to Louisiana.

The New York Times' Amy Harmon, I am sure, knew she had herself a good story when she started trekking down to Delacroix to chronicle the struggles of a shrimping family in the wake of the BPocalypse. What I wonder, though, is whether she knew she was committing Shakespeare -- albeit a Shakespearean tragedy that trails off before everybody's dead or bereft.

IF YOU'RE NOT from the state of my birth, you'll start to get what I mean pretty quickly:

While Americans were debating their reliance on fossil fuel in the wake of the worst offshore oil spill in United States history, Aaron Greco was trying to decide what to do with his life. His story illuminates the singular appeal and hardships of a livelihood in jeopardy.

And as the Obama administration paves the way for deepwater drilling to resume in the gulf, it is young men like Aaron who will shoulder the direct impact of the nation’s decisions about what energy to consume and what seafood to eat in the years to come.

Few of his friends born into the Gulf Coast’s fishing communities were following their own fathers and grandfathers in the pursuit of wild seafood. Long before the oil rig exploded, rising fuel prices and competition from Asia’s cheap farmed shrimp had made a risky and physically punishing profession far less profitable: only a few thousand Louisianans now make their living fishing, down from more than 20,000 in the late 1980s.

Yet Aaron was among those of his generation still drawn to an elemental way of life. He wanted to be his own boss, to spend his days on the teeming marshes outside his door, 30 miles south of New Orleans and a world away. He wanted to pace himself to the rhythm of the oysters, crabs, and his favorite quarry since childhood, the shrimp.

“I want to chase the shrimp more than anything,” he told his girlfriend. “But I’m stuck.”

When the spill closed the waters around St. Bernard Parish, Aaron bounced between doubt and determination. His sisters pushed him to go on to college; his uncles warned of the lingering effects of dispersants used to clean up the oil. Even after the well was capped, Aaron questioned his own abilities.
IF YOU ARE from Louisiana, and if "it was good enough for my daddy" is your motteaux, you probably think the damn Yankees are making fun of you. Read on anyway.

Better yet, go to the
Times website and read the whole thing. Not that it'll do any damned good.

For Buddy, who had dropped out of school in 10th grade without ever learning to read, there had been no choice: like almost everyone else in Delacroix, descendants of Spanish-speaking Canary Islanders, he never considered anything other than fishing.

The time he did spend in school he used to advantage, singing “Sweet Caroline” to the pretty blonde in front of him on the bus, whom he soon prevailed on to marry him. But like many who grew up on the banks of the Bayou Terre aux Boeufs, he felt looked down on at the high school “up the road” — a designation that denoted social class as much as geography.

Others may have regarded them as poor, but the truth was teenagers could make good money in those days on the brackish waters that flowed into the gulf. In 1986, the year Buddy and Carolyn’s first child, Brittany, arrived, wild-caught gulf shrimp still accounted for nearly a quarter of the shrimp Americans ate, commanding the equivalent of nearly $2 per pound dockside.

And when Aaron was born, in 1990, Buddy covered the hospital bill with a few hundred sacks of oysters at $27 each.

“I paid for your stinky behind in that bayou,” he liked to remind his son, and it didn’t take long for the lesson to stick. Aaron spent his childhood catching minnows with a scoop net in the ditch near their home, his shrimper boots reaching up to his shorts. On fishing trips with his father, he lined up the little fish that dropped from the netting and stuffed them in his pockets.

“You take those out of there,” his mother commanded when she caught him. “They get in my washer and dryer, I’m going to have a smell out of this world.”

By the time Aaron was 13, he was lobbying to leave school himself. “Let me come on the boat,” he pleaded.

But Buddy wanted his middle child, and only boy, to have other options. The money in fishing was unpredictable, the work was dangerous, and there was no retirement plan. Carolyn’s father, a shrimper all his life, had had his hand ripped off in an accident with his rigging. Buddy’s father, stricken with lung cancer, hauled his oxygen tank with him onto the boat until a few days before he died in 2001.

“You finish school, Aaron,” he told his son. “You take after your mother — you smart enough to go to college.”

LARGE SWATHS of my home state -- millions of its citizens -- are the last of the Mohicans . . . or the Sioux in an eternal Wounded Knee. The world has fundamentally changed around them; they stay the same.

The economy upon which they have staked -- continue to stake -- their all is sinking as fast as what's left of the marshland under their feet. The only question is what will slip beneath the Gulf swells first, the land or the people who have populated it for generations.

Tradition is a fine thing. But it can turn deadly when it leads to ossification -- to turning one's back on education and new ideas. Holding fast to a way of life is a noble thing, except when it is untenable.

Louisiana is fast becoming untenable. All the things crucial to its survival are all the things in which it so desperately lags.

Ay, there's the rub . . . to adapt and forswear a way of life, doomed though it may be, or to follow in thy father's footsteps, yea, though they lead to, and over, a precipice.
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. . . .
TO BE, or not to be -- that is the question. I dread the forthcoming answer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Louisiana: The state it's in

Here's some good ol' Cajun cooking for you.

It's a popular dish where I come from, and it's taken from the perennial cookbook,
Louisiana: Recipe for Disaster. And here's how you make Endemic Toxic Stew:
-- Take 300 years of a deviant civic culture out of the bayous of Louisiana. Check to make sure the tolerance of corruption and the get-rich-quick scheme has ripened sufficiently.

-- Add a significantly uneducated and compliant population.

-- Make a roux with BP crude oil and contaminated sediments.

-- Simmer in a cracked pot for many generations in befouled water over tropical heat.

-- Add oil- and dispersant-contaminated seafood.
(If you desire, add a number of Louisiana state deadheads for a more robust flavor.)

-- Season to taste with complacency, corrupt politicians, waste, incompetent government and a Gallic shrug.

-- Serve with dirty rice, cancer sticks and too much booze.

(Makes enough to serve as many legislators' brothers-in-law as possible. Serves fewer "unconnected" citizens every year. Eat at your own risk.)

Monday, August 09, 2010

What we don't know won't hurt BP

We don't know what we don't know about what BP has done to the Gulf of Mexico . . . and all the fish in the sea.

And the Angel of Oily Death is happy to keep it that way.

When you're suspected of criminal acts, and surely liable for God knows how much civilly, you'd just as soon the Almighty be the only one Who knows the full extent of what you've done.

I suspect that's why BP . . . British Petroleum . . . the Angel of Oily Death . . . Those Lousy Rotten Capitalist-Pig Bastards -- whatever the hell you wish to call that destroyer of worlds -- is balking at paying for long-term testing of Gulf seafood.

THIS LITTLE THING is merely crucial in determining whether or not your oyster po-boy is going to send you to an early grave, or whether you're getting a heapin' helpin' of petroleum and Corexit with that shrimp etoufée or crab au gratin. New Orleans' WWL television reports:
State Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says so far, BP is refusing to commit the dollars.

"BP has been slower and slower in responding to us and seems to be dragging their feet in making a commitment to fund the studies that we're going to need to ensure that this multi-billion dollar industry is viable in Louisiana," said Barham.

BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles says the company is still considering the seafood testing plan.

"Some of those requests went quite far out in time," said Suttles. "They were looking at up to 20 years. At this point in the response, it just isn't appropriate to actually look that far out."

Suttles suggests that the state look at paying for the program with money BP has already pledged to the oil spill recovery effort.

"The gulf research initiative, the $500 million we have made available to do long term impact assessments here in the gulf," said Suttles.

Secretary Barham says if BP doesn't voluntarily agree to the long term seafood testing plan, there are both criminal and civil remedies the state can use in an attempt to force BP to pay up.

It may be more and more difficult to talk to BP," said Barham. "It may be their attorneys that we're talking to."
IT'S ALL ABOUT confidence. It's about whether people are confident that Gulf seafood won't hurt them. It's about whether the Gulf fishing industry will survive or not.

But, hey! The well's no longer gushing! BP figures it's not their problem -- at least not until the law tells them it is.

And the "small people," fishermen and consumers alike, get drilled again.