The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has taken a major toll on the commercial fishing industry, including the oyster business. In Louisiana, 10 of the state’s 28 oyster harvest areas have been closed. This is expected to have a large economic impact on the state, which in 2008 produced more than 12 million pounds of oysters, worth nearly $39 million.
Oil Spill Threatens Oyster Industry
Mike Voisin, a member of the Gulf Oyster Industry Council Board, said that the oil spill could have a huge financial impact on the oyster industry, particularly in Louisiana. He estimates that the BP oil spill will have a $500 million-per-year impact on the Gulf Coast. Furthermore, the head of Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ oyster program, Patrick Banks, commented that while many species are in danger from the oil spill, Gulf Coast oysters are particularly susceptible to harm because they are unable to move away from the oil. Banks also stated that, during the summer months, oysters are gearing up for reproduction. Depending on the amount of oil the oysters ingest, they may be unable or less able to reproduce, impacting the future population of shellfish in the Gulf area.
Oyster companies in Louisiana, which is the largest oyster producer in the nation, have expressed that their oyster supplies are diminishing. Many companies have recognized that the negative effect of the oil spill on oysters is two-fold:
First, the oil could infiltrate oyster beds, killing the sea creatures or rendering them toxic.
Second, trying to control the oil by opening inland water diversion gates could also destroy the Gulf Coast oysters, as fresh water dilutes the salt water on which shellfish need to survive.
Due to the diminishing supply of oysters, many businesses will be forced to lay off workers or close down entirely. If your company has shut down or suffered a loss of oyster business due to the oil spill, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
Can I File an Oyster Industry Loss of Business Lawsuit?
If you work in the shellfish or oyster industry and have lost profits or wages as a result of the oil spill, you have legal rights and may be able to file an oil spill claim. According to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, workers and companies can recover wages and profits that were lost due to an oil spill.