William C. - Gulf Coast Seafood: Concerns, Problems, and Prevention

Thank you for viewing my presentation. Here's what I would like to know from you: Will you object to yourself, your friends, or your family members eating seafood from the Gulf of Mexico after viewing this presentation? Why or why not?

To respond to my prompt and to submit any additional comments, questions or personal accounts related to my speech topic, please post in my discussion forum on the “Oil Spill Anniversary Conference” Facebook page. If you do not have a Facebook account, please e-mail me at speechstudentconference@gmail.com instead from your personal e-mail account. Please put my name in the e-mail title, so I’m sure to receive your message.

I’m looking forward to communicating with you at that time. Thank you!
- William

Informative Speech Final Draft, 04/05/11

(1)   William Carraway


(2)   Gulf Coast Seafood: Concerns, Prevention, and Problems


(3)   To inform.


(4)   As a result of my presentation, my audience will be able to add this information to the surrounding information from other sources regarding seafood safety and form their own opinions on whether or not to eat seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.


(5) Anywhere from 20 to 60 meals per person per month contain seafood along the Gulf Coast

with several thousands more around the world, so chances are that either you or someone close

to you consumes seafood on a regular basis and the threat of eating oil contaminated seafood is

something to be concerned about. The Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill impacted many industries,

businesses, and families along the Gulf Coast this past year. One of the hardest hit was the

seafood industry. Along the Gulf Coast, seafood is not just a tasty treat it is a way of life. When

the catastrophe occurred, seafood safety became an immediate issue and concern for thousands.

Pensacola is known as the “Red Snapper Capital of the World” and according to an article from

CNN titled Oysters Make a Comeback, well over half of the nation’s oysters come from the Gulf

Coast, with over 40% coming from Louisiana alone. (6)With seafood being one of the chief

exports from the Gulf Coast region, all areas of the country were impacted by the oil spill as well

as the individuals that eat seafood in those locations. So even if you do not live on the Gulf Coast,

chances are your seafood has still been impacted in some way by the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. (7) I

eat seafood of all kinds and since the spill I too have been concerned with the safety of the food I

eat. I continue to eat seafood, but almost every bite I take causes my mind to wonder if I am

putting tasting fish or shrimp into my mouth or a toxin that will harm me. (9-10) Contaminated

seafood does not just affect those trying to make a living, it impacts those who eat it, so it is vital

to make sure oil is not part of the menu. Throughout this presentation, I will address the safety

concerns of eating seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, health problems that may arise from

consuming oil contaminated seafood, as well as detailing what preventative measures have been

taken to insure the seafood that sits on our plates will not harm us or those we care about.


I.                   Contamination and Health Problems


In order to be informed of contaminated seafood, you must first understand what


contamination is. It is also necessary when considering your safety in relation to eating


seafood from the Gulf Coast, to have knowledge of the health problems that may arise as


a result of the contamination, if ingested.


A.    Contamination Defined

Contamination, as defined by Merriam-Webster Online, is making unfit by


introducing undesirable or unwholesome elements. Oil surely fits into this




B.     Health Problems

There are many health problems that ingesting oil can cause. Oil is toxic to the


body, so these problems can be both chronic which is long-lasting and


recurring and acute or short-term.


1.      Acute Problems

As noted on Diagnosis Pro, among the immediate problems are


decreased blood pressure, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty




2.      Chronic Problems

       Long-term effects from ingesting oil include functional

changes and problems with the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys.


All major systems of the body are impacted by oil.

Now that you are informed of contamination and the health problems that may arise

as a result of the oil that may be in your seafood, I will discuss how the public, that is your peers,

view Gulf Coast seafood safety.

II.                Public Views and Concerns

Conflicting viewpoints and confusing data from the media fuels the concerns from the


public regarding the safety of Gulf Coast seafood. Many times how others view a


particular issue, influences how their peers respond to the topic. Therefore, the public’s


perspective on the safety level of seafood from the Gulf Coast may help you to make


informed decisions about your own consumption.


A.    Public Concern

According to an article on CNN by Sutter, titled Oysters stage a comeback,


three months after the oil spill occurred 9 out of 10 people were concerned


about the safety of seafood from the Gulf Coast and reluctant to eat it. Now


almost one year later, that percentage has fallen to 70%, but is still high


enough to turn heads. Surprisingly, the article notes that locals are less


concerned about eating Gulf Coast seafood than those who are in other


locations across the nation.


B.     Mixed Viewpoints

In an article found on NOLA.com, Marshall details that two toxicologists


testing the seafood from the Gulf Coast have different opinions about its


safety. LuAnn White, a Tulane professor and consultant for the Department of


Health states “I eat the seafood and feed it to my family and I'm absolutely


comfortable with that.” Patricia Williams, a teacher at UNO and retainer for



plaintiffs against BP, has a very different perspective stating “Since the spill I


haven't eaten the seafood and I've urged my children not to eat it or feed it to


my grandchildren, I consider it too risky.” This type of conflicting outlooks by


those in science and seafood testing, leads to confusion and concern from the


public. In similar fashion and agreement to the teacher from UNO, a recent


interview conducted with Gwen Johnson, a Registered Nurse with Senior


Home Health Care, revealed that she too is concerned about the safety of


eating Gulf Coast seafood because as she states “I am worried about the


seafood I eat, because I understand how bad those toxins from the oil still in


our waters are and what they can do to our bodies. I rarely eat seafood since


the spill and it will be a long time before I get back into a habit of it.”

The public is concerned and confused about the safety of seafood from the Gulf, so

let’s take a look at what has been done and is being done to prevent the carcinogens found in oil

from showing up on our plates and to assure the public that restaurants are providing clean, safe


III.             Preventative Measures

As many local area seafood restaurants were feeling the sting of the oil spill in both their


profits and traffic, measures were being implemented by them to obtain seafood from


other sources. In addition to this preventative strategy, local governmental agencies


began testing seafood for toxins, but it may not be in the way you would think.


A.    Local Buzz

Local news channel WEAR-TV 3 reported shortly after the spill last year that


some local seafood restaurants were seeking other means of obtaining fresh,


safe seafood for their customers. Among those were Joe Patti’s, who had


crews fishing in unaffected waters for similar fish.


1.      Menu Changes

Many menus changed as a result of the variations in fish caught in


these areas, with Grouper being one of the most influenced.  I have


personally experienced the menu changes at Cock of the Walk, where


they changed the Grouper to the “Grouper’s Cousin” and The Shrimp


Basket has changed from Grouper to Whitefish. Other restaurants


followed similar suit with this and other types of fish[show menu].


2.      Testing for Oil

The NOAA website contained an article titled Passing the “Sniff”


Test noting that testing for 10 species of seafood has been conducted


since the spill last year. Interestingly though, the article states that


using the sense of smell, the highly-trained quality officers sniff the


seafood for contaminants and dispersants from the Deep Water


Horizon incident [sniff a shrimp]. With both “first-line” screeners and


expert assessors, the NOAA says it is doing its part to make sure the


seafood at our markets and on our plates is safe to eat. Expert assessors


include 10 highly trained people to pick up on odors and aromas from


the fish, shrimp, and oysters being tested.

Changes in the menu and seafood testing are two major ways that the seafood industry for the

Gulf Coast has attempted to keep us as consumers safe and coming back for more.


 We all have our food weaknesses and tasty treats and for many of us along the Gulf Coast,

 seafood is ours. Not only is it the economic backbone of the region, it is the daily flavor that

makes living here such a special thing. When the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill occurred, the

seafood industry felt a huge impact. (20) Contaminated seafood as a result of oil from the spill

can lead to serious health issues, such as vomiting, difficulty breathing, brain and liver problems

and more so it is important to have knowledge of the public perspectives and concerns that 7 out

of 10 people surveyed are still concerned about seafood safety, along with the strategies in place

by local restaurants and governmental agencies to prevent oil contaminated seafood from

entering the marketplace or menu, such as changes in the menu and fishing from various areas

not affected by the oil. (21) In one way or another, whether local or not, you or someone you

know have been impacted by the threat of contaminated seafood from the Gulf Coast area and as

humans it is our natural response to care about one another. As efforts to clean up the oil and

restore the seafood industry and safety continue, each time you or someone you know sits down

to enjoy a piece of fish or fried shrimp, perhaps you will think of the BP Oil Spill if only for a

brief moment.



Diagnosis Pro. (2011). Disease Information for Crude Oil Ingestion/Aspiration. Retrieved  

February 14, 2011 from: http://en.diagnosispro.com/disease_information-for/crude-oil-ingestion-aspiration/12729.html.

Johnson, G. M. Personal Communication. February 28, 2011.

Marshall, B. (2010, December 19). Safety of Gulf Seafood Debated 8 Months After BP Oil Spill.

Retrieved March 2, 2011 from: http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/12/safety_of_gulf_seafood.html.

NOAA. (2011). Passing the “Sniff” Test. Retrieved March 2, 2011 from:


Sutter, J. (2011, February 17). Oysters Stage a Comeback. Retrieved March 2, 2011 from: