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Tar Mat Spat: BP Says Oil-Related Fishing Closure Makes State Look Bad


BP is going to the mat over a fishing closure in state waters off Plaquemines Parish over Fourth of July weekend. The British oil giant isn't happy with the state's decision to close waters to fishing because of oil finds. Following a state Wildlife and Fisheries hold on fishing near East Grand Terre Island due to the discovery of an underwater tar mat, the company responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster accused the state of "perpetuating the myth" that Gulf seafood is unsafe.

 

A massive underwater tar mat was discovered near Grand Terre Island on May 6. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the oil and sand mix was 165 ft. long by 65 ft. wide. BP said they had a crew on the scene to begin cleanup the next day. About 43,000 pounds of material were collected, and the cleanup job was completed on June 18. 

 

On Friday, the state Wildlife and Fisheries Department closed a broader area to commericial fishing - including shrimping, oyster harvesting, crabbing and other types fishing - in the island between the Gulf of Mexico and Barataria Bay, citing new tar mats found last week. Recreational fishing in the area will be limited to rod and reel, which includes charter boat tours.

 

"Tar mats located during ongoing surveys were removed this week in the intertidal and subtidal areas of Grand Terre Islands," the Department said in a statement. "Some of those mats were in areas that are already closed, however some additional closures were required."

 

But BP says the additional closures (pictured) have been put in place without scientific basis. According to a statement issued by company spokesman Geoff Morrell, the state hasn't offered data to support the reasons for the closures.

 

"By extending fishery closures, the state may help perpetuate the myth that consumers should avoid Gulf seafood and tourists should avoid Louisiana’s waters," Morrell said. "When no scientific basis is provided for the decision, Louisiana does a disservice to the thousands of people who work in the commercial fishing, recreational fishing, and tourism industries and who depend on those industries for their livelihoods."

 

Morrell reiterated a longstanding BP position that Gulf seafood is safe to eat.

 

"Gulf seafood is the most rigorously tested seafood in the country, and every test conducted – by multiple state and federal agencies – has shown the same thing: Gulf seafood is safe," he said.

 

A call to the state for further comment was not immediately returned.

 

Below is the map of the fishing closures, as of June 28. Closed areas are in red:




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