I have been working from New Orleans for the past month and one of the things I have been very interested in was, "how do the locals feel about the effects of the gulf coast oil spill".
Once the well was capped that was the last we really heard of it in the national news. Days after the spill was capped it was announced by the federal govt that the oil was gone. They said that about 1/3 evaporated 1/3 was eaten and 1/3 had dispersed into the water.....but still I wondered what really happened?
I spoke with an architect who also owned 2 wonderful restaurants....he said at first he was leery of the seafood and only recently did he start serving gulf coast seafood again. He says that he is not sure what the "real" truth is, but he know that they are still catching a lot of seafood. He stated that the oyster beds were wiped out with 80% of the oysters being dead.
I found a local fish market where there are about 10 different booths selling the fresh catch....similar to a flea market, but they are selling fish. I spoke with 3 of the booth owners and they stated that they didn't think the seafood was unsafe, but that this whole thing has really put a damper on their fish sales.
I have seen this fish market be very packed, so my sense is that people are pretty much unphased by the spill.
Finally I spoke with a local fisherman. He stated that he thought that the oil was like a fire on land and that the fish could easily avoid the oil and be safe. He stated that the catch of fish was very good around here, but he had heard reports that over on the Mississippi coast, the fishermen were saying that they were having trouble catching fish. He thought the seafood was safe to eat and said that LSU and others had tested the seafood more than they ever had before. He was convinced that the oil sunk and is getting eaten.
So my 2 cents on this is that in Indiana most people do not eat the fish out of the rivers. Clearly the water in Indiana ends up in the gulf around New Orleans and the oil spill represents just one more insult to the gulf. Along the gulf coast people have grown up eating seafood and all the bars serve steamed seafood just like we would serve a burger and fries in Indiana. I think that nobody really knows what is in the seafood really and they figure that they are going to die from something so eating the seafood is like smoking or drinking....we know it is not great for you, but we do it anyway.
I hope to talk to an environmental group down here and add to this blog post.