With all of the media attention focused on the oil spill capping and clean-up efforts, Louisiana's battle to ensure the economic survival of its seafood industry is being fought in the background.
On May 29th, Louisiana presented to BP a plan for ensuring the long-term consumer safety of seafood harvested from waters of the Gulf of Mexico – as well as the economic survival of its fishery industry – in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon blow-out and the subsequent mammoth oil gusher whose flow has yet to be stemmed. The state's 20-year plan comprised three main elements:
- Implementation of a science-based seafood safety testing program with transparent metrics of safety and quality.
- Implementation of a certification program for quality and processing of certified Louisiana seafood.
- A successful short-term and sustained long-term consumer information campaign designed to reassert the Louisiana brand.
The state asked that BP make $457 million dollars available to fund what would be a multi-agency effort. More than two weeks have gone by, and Louisiana is still waiting for its answer.
Today (June 16th) Louisiana called upon the Federal Government to take the decision out of BP's hands and force the company to commit funds to this program. Here is the text of Louisiana's request:
Now in day 57, oil continues to flow in Louisiana's coastal and marshland habitats, impacting our wildlife, our industry and our livelihood.
In his address to the nation last night, President Obama stated emphatically that, in his meeting today with BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, he would request Mr. Svanberg to "set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed ... " Further, the President stated that "in order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party" and "beyond compensating the people of the Gulf in the short term, it's also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region."
The President has promised to ensure our businesses and communities are made whole. On May 29, 2010, we submitted a plan to BP, and shared copies with appropriate federal agencies, that would ensure the long-term viability of Louisiana's $4 billion commercial and recreational seafood industry through the creation of a rigorous sampling, scientific testing and evaluation program of many species of Louisiana seafood. The plan would allow Louisiana fisherman to certify and pledge the safety and quality of their product to consumers nationwide.
Today, we strongly urge President Obama's Administration to request BP to swiftly approve Louisiana's Seafood Safety Response and Quality Certification Plan and finance it from the fund President Obama has requested BP to create. This plan is critical to Louisiana, and the nation as whole, to ensure our fishermen have a future and a market to sell their high quality products.
We have enclosed a copy of the plan, and are prepared to answer any questions. We are eager to implement it, and would be grateful for your urgent assistance.
With daily media images of the BP oil slick seared into the minds of consumers in the US and beyond, Louisiana's proposal would assist the recovery of the seafood industry of all of the states in the Gulf region. The federal government should act swiftly on this matter.
It's time for President Obama to put BP's money where his mouth is.
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