Seafood expert on oil spill impact

    The spill will impact the top seafood producers in the nation including Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida.

    Doris Hicks is a Seafood Technology Specialist with Delaware Sea Grant, a part of the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.  She’s been monitoring the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from her office at the school’s Lewes campus.

    Fishing has been restricted in the Gulf from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Pensacola Bay in Florida.  Louisiana has closed vulnerable fisheries in state waters within three miles of the coast.

    Hicks says the spill will impact the top seafood producers in the nation including Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, “But we don’t know exactly what [the impact] is.  There are areas that are still safe.  They haven’t closed yet, and they’re constantly checking.”  Hicks says they won’t be able to determine what the full affect of the spill will be until the leak is capped.  “It’s one thing when a container ship is compromised and spills “x” amount, you know what your dealing with,” Hicks says.

    She says the oil will affect different species more than others.  “A clam or an oyster can ‘clam up’, and shut down, and stop feeding until the waters clear up, but given the volume and how much, I’m not sure how all the different species are going to be impacted.”

    The spill’s affect may have a silver lining for the fishing industry in other parts of the country while fishing is on-hold in the Gulf of Mexico.  She says these days, seafood is flown to markets all over the world.  “I think that will help some businesses.  They’ll fill in with other products,” Hicks say.  “They might try something new, and there’s a tremendous variety of seafood available and many things to try that they can ask what’s similar to what I’ve tried before.  It’s a good way to introduce people to new types.”

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