The seafood stats are in for the Gulf's 2011 harvest, and though the finger-pointing (at BP and the oil spill, of course) has begun, the numbers paint a complicated picture. Last year was the first full year of fishing since the spill, and some areas definitely saw a depressed catch: In the Barataria estuary, one of the areas hardest hit by oil, the fall season was off by around 7 million pounds of shrimp and about 2.7 million pounds of blue crab. And many fishermen say BP is to blame. "I'm afraid that oil spill has ruined us," one shrimp dock owner tells the AP.
But the AP acknowledges that across Louisiana as a whole, the volume of shrimp, crabs, and oysters harvested last year dropped only modestly from the 2003-2009 average. In the case of Barataria, marine experts say the historically high Mississippi River could have been a factor in the depressed catch; government officials and scientists caution that its too early to declare a link to BP, because it's normal for harvests to fluctuate. And it wasn't all gloom: Thanks to high prices, Louisiana fisherman made more money than average in 2011.