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Andromedan StarSeed

Gulf seafood industry tries

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Here's bit of the news for you guys about the Gulf seafood and industry that tries to shake an oily image.

By MARY FOSTER and BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writers Mary Foster And Brian Skoloff, Associated Press Writers – 14 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS – Those who rely on the Gulf of Mexico's rich fishing grounds say there's a new crisis brewing — convincing skeptical consumers that the seafood they harvest and sell is safe to eat.

The Gulf's fisheries are beginning to reopen more than three months after the oil began gushing from the sea floor, but those in the seafood industry say that doesn't mean everything has returned to normal.

"We have a huge perception problem," said Ewell Smith, director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. "We have lost markets across the country, and some of them may be lost for good."

More fishing grounds have reopened since BP's blown-out well was corked July 15, and engineers made important progress this week by forcing heavy mud and cement into the well to push the crude back underground. Engineers want to ensure the well doesn't erupt again and are drilling a relief well, one of the final steps to permanently plugging the spill that spilled millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf.

BP PLC said Sunday that pressure tests indicated the cement plug had hardened and was firmly in place, clearing the way for drilling of the relief well to resume. The company did not say when it would begin drilling the final 100 feet of the well, though BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells has said it should resume Sunday night.

Once the relief well intersects the broken well, more mud and cement will be pumped in for the "bottom kill" meant to seal the well for good.

Even with that progress, safety suspicions abound. The Gulf accounts for a majority of the domestic shrimp and oysters eaten by Americans and about 2 percent of overall U.S. seafood consumption. But consumers are turning up their noses and some wary suppliers appear to be turning to imports.

Tammy McNaught arrived in New Orleans from San Francisco on Saturday, and after seeing months of news coverage about the oil spill was trying to decide whether she would eat seafood and how much.

"It's probably nothing, but I'm not sure if it is safe. However, if it's deep fried, you know it is going to be OK," McNaught said, laughing.

At the annual Great American Seafood Cookoff, held Saturday in New Orleans, competition was secondary to spreading good word about Gulf seafood.

more to this story is here!

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