NOAA: Gulf seafood tested so far is safe to eat

Jul 10, 2010 By BRIAN SKOLOFF , Associated Press Writer
Pelicans watch a shrimp trawler skim oil in Caminada Bay north of Grand Isle, La., Friday, July 9, 2010. The tiny resort island on the Gulf of Mexico is closed to all fishing due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (AP Photo/Chuck Cook)

(AP) -- Shrimp, grouper, tuna and other seafood snatched from the fringes of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico are safe to eat, according to a federal agency inspecting the catch.

To date, roughly 400 samples of commonly consumed species caught mostly in open waters - and some from closed areas - have been chemically tested by the . Officials say none so far has shown concerning levels of contaminants. Each sample represents multiple fish of the same species.

NOAA and the began catching seafood species in the Gulf within days of the April 20 BP rig explosion off Louisiana that generated a massive oil spill.

The agency is mostly looking for , or PAHs, the most common carcinogenic components of crude oil.

The first line of defense in keeping tainted seafood from the market is the closing of about one-third of federal Gulf waters to - roughly 80,000 square miles.

Seafood inspectors also have been trained to sniff out oily product. One fish sample has failed the smell test, but did not show concerning levels of contaminants, Kevin Griffis of the Commerce Department said Friday.

Still, Don Kraemer, who is leading FDA's Gulf seafood safety efforts, said the government isn't relying on testing alone.

"We couldn't possibly have enough samples to make assurances that fish is safe. The reason we have confidence in the seafood is not because of the testing, it's because of the preventive measures that are in place," such as fishing closures, he said.

FDA issued guidance last month that encourages seafood processors to heighten precautions so they know the origin of their .

The federal government plans surprise inspections at docks along the Gulf Coast, though Dr. Steve Murawski, NOAA's chief scientist, acknowledged they can't be everywhere.

"It's like enforcing anything. You can't be everywhere all the time and handle every fish. We're going to try to be real visible," Murawski said.

Explore further: Microplastics in the ocean: Biologists study effects on marine animals

3 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gulf of Mexico fishing ban extended

May 25, 2010

US officials Tuesday expanded a fishing ban in the Gulf of Mexico by more than 8,000 square miles (20,000 square kilometers) amid a spreading oil slick.

Federal agencies say seafood safe

Dec 10, 2005

Federal officials and officials from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana say there is no reason to be concerned over eating Gulf states seafood.

FDA issued advisory to Gulf seafood firms

Feb 05, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory to seafood processors concerning recent illnesses linked to fish carrying the ciguatera toxin.

Recommended for you

New challenges for ocean acidification research

2 hours ago

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

Compromises lead to climate change deal

3 hours ago

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For ...

Finding innovative solutions for reducing CO2 emissions

5 hours ago

Today, the company Gaznat SA and EPFL signed an agreement for the creation of two new research chairs. The first one will study ways to seize carbon dioxide (CO2) at its production source and increase its value ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (1) Jul 10, 2010
This is good news, but this report raises other questions.

Why is NOAA and the Food and Drug Administration doing the work of EPA?

Is there no division of labor in government?

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.