What We Sow We Reap


To be sure, the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf is immense.  To say that the well leaked is a disservice; it veritably gushed.  Gushed to the tune of 62,000 barrels a day slowing to 53,000 a day as the oil in the reservoir diminished the internal pressure.

That is a lot of oil.  A whole HELL of a lot of oil.

And we covered it.  Boy did we cover it.

The news coverage of the spill was complete.

Stories pounded us with the expected impact of this spill.  And the horrors we could expect to watch as families up and down the coast lost their livelihoods.

Fisheries may never recover.  Some suggested that oyster beds may actually fade away forever, never to return.

The story never ended and it was all bad.

But now the well has been capped and no more oil is flowing into the Gulf; it’s been 3 weeks.

Three weeks.

The damage?

NEW ORLEANS — The rich fishing grounds of the Gulf of Mexico are beginning to reopen more than three months after crude began gushing from the sea floor.

Huh?

Open?

Are you sure?

Our skipper, Gerrard Cheramie – no BP apologist, but a gnarled Creole fisherman who knows these waters so well that he can sniff the scent of speckled trout shoals – was equally realistic.

He said: ‘The waves here are like a washing machine and you can already see they’re rinsing the oil away. Because the fisheries have been closed down as a precaution, I think our catches will be bigger than ever when we are allowed back.’

The healing has already begun.  The problem now facing the industry isn’t one of oil and cleanup.  It’s not about safety and contamination.  It’s about the message:

“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.”

Why?

“We’ve had 24-your news and Internet coverage showing the oil spewing across the Gulf for months.”

Henry Poynot, who owns Big Fisherman Seafood in New Orleans and has been in business for 26 years, agreed the coverage has had an effect.

“People just can’t believe after seeing all that oil going into the Gulf that everything isn’t tainted,” he said. “It’s psychological or something.”

The problem with painting a disaster as a disaster is that people will remember it’s a disaster.  Now, I’m not sayin’ that we should try to hide the story.  I’m not sayin’ we shouldn’t take every step to make sure this spill, and the next one, get cleaned up and quick.  I’m just sayin’ that a little less sensationalism would go a long way.

It was big, the biggest.  But was it “the greatest environmental catastrophe our Nation has ever faced?”

No.

But now the government has to out spin itself:

“We have been selling Gulf seafood the entire time and there’s some resistance, some people are worried,” said Ti Martin, who helps run the family business. “But really, the number of government agencies testing seafood is unprecedented. If it’s getting to market, it’s good.”

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