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Oysters, Oil, and the Government Response

by Shawn Regan

While much of the seafood industry in Louisiana has recovered, NPR reports that the oyster business is still plagued by the BP oil spill. However, the threat is not exactly from the oil itself, but rather, from the response to the oil:

“The oil came in and the oil left, disappeared [or] whatever,” [oysterman Mitch Jurisich] says. “And the mortality to the oysters [was] very minimal in most areas.”

But the stress didn’t stop when the oil moved away. That’s because the state of Louisiana built berms to keep the oil from reaching fragile wetlands. And two of the berms cut right through Jurisich’s oyster beds.

He estimates that about 20 percent of his oysters have been buried or smothered by drifting sediment.

“We fought the oil. We won the battle in a way,” Jurisich says. “And now we’re fighting man’s decision to stop the oil. They have destroyed more oyster crops than I think the oil would have ever.”

Jurisich is concerned he won’t be compensated for his losses due to the sand berms, which some say have questionable effectiveness and environmental impact.