Updated: Monday, 22 Nov 2010, 7:59 PM CST
Published : Monday, 22 Nov 2010, 7:59 PM CST
PASCAGOULA, Mississippi (WALA) - A shrimp boat that hauled in a load of tar balls could end the royal red shrimp season this fall. The Bon Secour shrimp boat, Our Mother was pulling its trawls in newly opened waters when it happened.
"Something's got to be done. They cut me out of my living. BP's got to compensate for that," Johnny Nelson, the boat's captain, said.
Nelson was trawling waters north of the Deep Water Horizon well site when he pulled up his net. Along with the shrimp were enough tar balls to end what had been a productive trip. Instead of a nice payday, thousands of dollars worth of shrimp were spoiled at the dock while different agencies collected their samples.
Our Mother was taken to a decontamination station in Pascagoula on Monday. The U. S. Coast Guard was back on board there. NOAA along with the Department of Commerce determines what waters are to stay open and what seafood is safe to eat. The deep waters where these shrimp were caught were just re-opened November 15.
"The real concern here is more to the extent of it and the magnitude of it," said NOAA's Dr. Roy Crabtree. "I'm not going to say that this is the first trawler that's encountered a tar ball, but this one seems to have encountered quite a few."
Crabtree says NOAA hopes to get boats back offshore as soon as possible to get more samples of the shrimp and the bottom.
"What we'll do is go out and do some trawls in this area and see if we encounter tar as this vessel did and of course we probably would sample some of the shrimp for seafood safety just to be sure," Crabtree said. "If we encountered tainted product, we'd have to look at potential closure, but we could just look at closing the royal red fishery if we think that's the only fishery where we have an issue."
Samples of the tar have been taken by BP, the Coast Guard and NOAA to determine the source of the tar. Meanwhile, the Nelsons and their crew will have to wait for the boat to be cleaned and the rigging to be replaced while the royal red season passes them by. NOAA does plan to use Our Mother as one of the boats they commission to search for more tar on the bottom.