The officials with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries might disagree when it comes to restoring the oysters beds off its coast. They held a press conference Friday, April 15 with leaders from the oyster industry to highlight BP’s failure to follow through on its $15 million pledge for improvements to oyster grounds.
“While BP is busy spending millions on advertising to prove that they are following through on their promise to make the oyster industry and all of our coastal fisheries whole, they have neglected to follow through on numerous projects that could have helped our oyster men and women get back to work,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.
I spoke with Olivia Watkins, spokesperson for LDWF. In good times, Louisiana’s coastal waters produce 13 million pounds of oysters annually. Last year, only 6.6 million pounds were harvested. “Only five times since 1950 have we harvested less than 7 million pounds,” said Watkins.
“People are very frustrated with BP’s reluctance to really step out and pay for the clutch plant that they initially said they were going to pay for in conversations with us,” she told me over the phone.
Expect that frustration to get even worse. The Times-Picayune is reporting that BP officials are saying they aren’t responsible for the restoring the oyster beds because state officials made the decision to turn on a number of freshwater diversions full blast to block oil from entering coastal wetlands which decimated private and public oyster beds. Since BP and the Coast Guard didn’t approve of the strategy, BP isn’t paying the promised $15 million. Read more.