Just days after BP stopped the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expedite the reopening of Louisiana’s waters to commercial fishing.  

“We met here today with commercial fishermen and processors because we need our commercial fishing industry to reopen as quickly and safely as possible,” said Gov. Jindal at a press conference Monday at Harlon’s LA Fishing, a seafood processing company in Kenner, LA.

Gov. Jindal urged the FDA to move quickly in analyzing seafood samples that will help determine which waters are safe for fishing.

gulf-shrimp1-featured.jpgJindal emphasized the critical role the seafood industry plays in Louisiana’s economy. With over 12,260 commercial fishing licenses, and over 1,500 seafood dealers, processors and brokers in the state, it is no wonder the Governor is pressing the federal government on the issue.

“This represents thousands of Louisiana families that depend on our commercial fishing industry for their livelihoods and entire Louisiana communities that are supported by commercial fishing activities,” said Jindal. “We need to get our commercial fishing industry back up and running again as quickly as we can ensure our waters are safe.”

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission recently passed a resolution urging FDA to “review the testing samples sitting in their labs” to help move the reopening process along. Jindall said Monday his office “absolutely” supports the resolution.

Nearly 50 percent of near-shore Louisiana waters, and 65 percent of federal fishing waters in the Gulf are still open to commercial fishing. The Governor said the state is currently pursuing a long-term strategy to open the other half of Louisiana’s waters and get commercial fishermen “back in their boats as soon as possible.”

In May, Louisiana submitted a plan to BP, asking the oil company to fund a 20-year, $457 million seafood testing and certification program to help protect the state’s seafood reputation. The Louisiana Wild Seafood Certification Program would enable the state to oversee seafood processing from catch to retail.

Gov. Jindal again called on BP to immediately approve the funding for the plan at the seafood processor Monday.

“We want everyone to know that this is still the safest and best seafood

you can get anywhere,” said Jindal. “Bar none.”

Louisiana is second only to Alaska in terms of commercial fisheries production and home to three of the top seven commercial fishing ports in the country. The state produces about 1 billion pounds of seafood product worth over $272 million annually, according to Governor Jindal’s office.

In recent years, Louisiana’s harvest accounted for 35 percent of the domestic shrimp harvest, as well 36 percent of oysters, 56 percent of the Gulf menhaden, 27 percent of blue crab, 55 percent of black drum, 23 percent of all snapper species and 20 percent of yellow-fin tuna.