GULF COAST, La. -- The massive Gulf oil spill is raising seafood safety questions, as university scientists report finding oil droplets in crab larvae.
The larvae of blue crabs and fiddler crabs from Louisiana to Pensacola, Fla., contain oil droplets, reports scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi and Tulane University in New Orleans, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald.
"We will see this enter the food chain in a lot of ways," Harriet Perry, director of the Center for Fisheries Research and Development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, said in the story. "Fish are going to feed on (crab larvae). We have also just started seeing it on the fins of small, larval fish - their fins were encased in oil. That limits their mobility, so that makes them easy prey for other species."
Perry told the McClatchy paper that researchers have not yet linked the crab larvae's hydrocarbons to the BP disaster, but she has little doubt the Gulf spill is the source. In her 42 years of studying blue crab, she said she's never seen such contamination.
Vice President Biden talked Tuesday to local fishermen as he visited Pomes Seafood distributor, which has shut down because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.CAPTIONBy Gerald Herbert, APOn Tuesday, during his first visit to the Gulf region since the spill began April 20, Vice President Biden announced a new federal effort to ensure seafood safety.
He said two federal agencies -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Food and Drug Administration -- will form a partnership to test seafood and decide which areas are OK for fishing.
Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator at NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, said in an announcement of the new effort:
No single agency could adequately ensure the safety of seafood coming from the Gulf following this tragedy, but in working together, we can be sure that tainted waters are closed as appropriate, contaminated seafood is not allowed to make it to market, and that closed waters can be reopened to fishing as soon as is safe.
The agencies will be coordinating with state officials to close fishing and shellfish harvesting areas in the Gulf of Mexico that have been or are likely to be exposed to oil from the spill.
Federal officials say they are also testing fish caught just outside of closed areas to ensure these areas are large enough to prevent the harvest of contaminated fish.
"So far," the announcement said, "fish flesh tested from outside the closure areas have tested well below any level of concern for oil-based contamination."
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