A DISPATCH FROM ASHLEY HALL
TUESDAY, JULY 13, 2010
Almost all of the rest of the open federal waters off Louisiana’s coast were closed to fishing this morning. Before today, the off-shore, federal waters west of Vermillion Bay were still being fished. Go here to compare today’s map to the closure map of July 4. NOAA Fishing Water Closure Map 07/04/10
This closure does not apply to inner waters — lakes and bayous–many of which are the dominion of the State and are still uncontaminated.
The only bright spot in the Gulf so far is that the oil has not made it to Apalachicola Bay, nor the west coast of Florida. And Texas is still a big source of healthy seafood. You can check for updates, if you like, by going to http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/
The amount of seafood coming from the Gulf is dwindling every day. No self-respecting fisherman would sell product from closed or contaminated waters. But, as today’s map shows, those areas are becoming harder and harder to find.
“Our situation right now is that we have many, many more fishermen harvesting a much, much smaller area,” explains Richard McCarthy, executive director of Market Umbrella and the White Boot Brigade in New Orleans.
“New Orleans is a city that loves its seafood, that is obsessed with its seafood,” he says. “If you have product right now, it sells.” In fact, he sees locals hoarding the dwindling catches, buying in abundance and freezing it. “The fact that we may not have ample supply is creating a great sense of anxiety.”
But Fisherwoman Kay Brandhurst of Slidell, LA fears that local attitudes are changing. Kay and her family own Four Winds Seafood. They catch shrimp, fish and crab and sell them directly to consumers, both at Farmer’s Markets and via mail order. According to Kay, it seems that people at the Louisiana farmers markets are beginning to get nervous about the quality of the local seafood. ”I don’t blame them. I thought it would be that way from the beginning,” she told me.
I want to share an email that Kay wrote to Richard on July 9. It describes a shrimping trip she went on with her two young boys:
As we were trawling in Lake Pontchartrain today, The porpoises were trying to talk to us. The kids felt they were trying to tell us something. As we picked up our first drag of the day, there was no Basque tradition with the Brandhurst boys to eat the first shrimp of the day for good luck raw with olive oil and sea salt. The trawl was full of tar balls. The oil has reached our sweet brown shrimp in Lake Pontchartrain. The catch had to be thrown back. The factories have shut down because of too much pressure with the FDA. We have signed a contract with BP for work, so far no one has called us. Our next move is to head to Cameron our last shot to shrimp. This will be a 2 day boat trip.
I will not be making it to the market tomorrow…. I hope to be there with shrimp from Cameron on Saturday. We will attempt as always through sickness, hurricanes and oil spills to preserve our heritage and fish off this beautiful land. We will prevail.
Love k “
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Ashley Hall is an SFA member and contributer to Gravy, the SFA’s foodletter. She is traveling along the Gulf Coast to capture stories relating to the oil spill as a traveling Gravy correspondent. We’ll be posting relevant entries here, but visit the blog she’s set up for the project, Third Coast Byways, for more