Gulf fisheries get $26m for promotion

Senator Mary Landrieu said the Commerce funding is a "down payment" on efforts to improve the image of Louisiana's seafood. Senator Mary Landrieu said the Commerce funding is a "down payment" on efforts to improve the image of Louisiana's seafood.

The US Commerce Department has announced $26 million (€19.9 million) in disaster relief money for Gulf of Mexico fisheries, including a seafood safety and marketing plan and research dollars to study the impacts of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on fish populations.

The money was approved as part of the supplemental appropriations bill passed earlier this summer.

Additional money has been appropriated for study and marketing plans for Gulf fish.

Of the $26 million, $15 million (€11.5 million) will go to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission to develop a five-year marketing and seafood testing plan. Some $10 million (€7.7 million) will go towards funding improved scientific assessments of fish populations in the Gulf.

Stock assessments for fish species are often underfunded and highly disputed by fishing organisations and environmental groups, who say the science either over- or underestimates the true health of a fish population. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will provide on-the-water sampling of fish, and the data will be peer reviewed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which normally oversees fishing rules off the east coast of Florida up to North Carolina.

An additional $1 million (€767,000) will go to the National Academies of Science to study the long-term effects of the oil spill on the Gulf's ecosystem.

Senator Mary Landrieu, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that the Commerce funding is a "down payment" on efforts to improve the image of Louisiana's seafood. But she still urged BP to fund a $173 million (€132.7 million) seafood safety plan proposed by the state this summer.

"More must be done," Landrieu said. "For those of us who call south Louisiana home, we know that a healthy and vibrant seafood industry is a key component of our recovery from this horrible disaster."

[Source: NOLA.com]

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