John Connelly, President of the National Fisheries Institute in Washington, is busy these days, focused on assuring that extensive federal government testing of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is thoroughly conducted and that the public gets a clear understanding that the seafood is safe.
Ever since BP’s oil well in the Gulf began spewing massive amounts of crude oil and methane gas into wide areas of fishing waters, many federal, state and local agencies have worked collaboratively on timely testing of water and seafood samples. Most of the fishing closures that have been in the news are the result of precautionary moves by decision-makers rather than by actual pollution.
Connelly says that thousands of tests have been conducted by Louisiana’s Department and Health and Hospitals and Division of Wildlife and Fisheries as well as by the federal Department of Environmental Protection (EPA), the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Seafood from the Gulf that is shipped across America, served in restaurants and sold in groceries is safe, says Connelly, and the public can be assured of that. It has been examined as never before, quite simply because of immediate measures taken to assure public health and the reputation of a legendary industry is at stake.
Connelly says the facts are available to the public, and the media has a responsibility to present those facts.
His organization, the National Fisheries Institute, represents many organizations in the seafood industry before Washington and on Capitol Hill, including Louisiana’s 2.4 billion dollar a year seafood industry and its 13,000 fishermen.