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Oil disaster could destroy Gulf of Mexico fishery, natural areas, tourism

From Green Right Now Reports As thousands rushed into action on the Louisiana coast on Friday to deal with the millions of gallons of oil heading for shore, the region’s...

From Green Right Now Reports

As thousands rushed into action on the Louisiana coast on Friday to deal with the millions of gallons of oil heading for shore, the region’s largest environmental advocacy group issued a statement to illustrate the magnitude of the biological fallout.

The BP oil spill quite simply could destroy the most productive fishery in the world, said Mobile Baykeeper, a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

The coastal Gulf region, stretching from the Mobile Bay Estuary to Galveston Bay, produces 69% of all domestic shrimp and 70% of all domestic oysters, the group reported.

Mobile Baykeeper called on the government to operate carefully in cleaning up the disaster and to avoid solutions that could worsen  the situation such as the controlled burns and chemical dispersants that the U.S. Coast Guard has been using.

The group expressed anger toward BP, operator of the well, which continues to pour an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf and experts say could persist in polluting the area for months. Efforts to cap the wellhead have so far failed.

Mobile Baykeeper focused on what it perceived as a lack of action to contain the spill over the last 11 days, since the offshore platform exploded.

“BP should have been required to have a plan to contain a catastrophic spill like the one we’ve witnessed,” said Casi Callaway, Executive Director of Mobile Baykeeper. “This ongoing hemorrhage of oil could continue over the next several months. Clearly, whatever containment plan BP had in place, if they had one at all, has failed the Gulf of Mexico and all those who benefit from its pristine waters and wildlife.”

The environmental disaster will not only wound the fishing industry, it will hurt agriculture and tourism, a $20 billion industry in the Gulf coast. It will devastate estuaries and marshlands and freshwater and marine life breeding grounds, Baykeeper said.

The group issued these facts about the region:

  • Commercial fish and shellfish harvest from the five U.S. Gulf states was estimated to be 1.3 billion pounds valued at $661 million  in 2008
  • Seven of the top ten busiest ports in the United States were located along the Gulf Coast as well
  • It is the heart of the U.S. petrochemical industry, with nearly 4000 oil platforms, producing 52 percent of the nation’s crude oil and 54 percent of its gas.
  • The Gulf of Mexico is the sixth largest economy in the world.


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