Environmental impact of the BP Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

Sunday, May 2, 2010, 17:49 by Business Editor

Nobody is sure yet, but there is a possibility that the long term environmental impact of the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico could get really, really bad for a lot of states.

BP Oil Gulf of Mexico oil spill NASA photo from space

BP Oil Gulf of Mexico oil spill NASA photo from space

There are those who believe that the ocean will take care of this on its own. Like Rush Limbaugh. Perhaps. But nature can take a few centuries to deal with things, and sometimes a few millenia. For people with shorter lifespans, the possible impact – mild, bad, horrible – of an oil spill that is worse than the Enron Valdez oil spill is worth discussing. Related story: Gulf of Mexico BP Oil spill photos.

We are not experts in this, so we researched a bit to find out exactly what would happen. The quick answer is,  no one knows for sure yet. But it could become really bad.

First, let us see what Greenpeace has to say. We along with many think that sometimes the Greenpeace eco-warriors could get a little alarmist. But they are still a good starting point.

According to them, the environmental impact of the BP oil spill could affect a variety of birds and marine life. The critically endangered bluefin tuna could get hit, as this is their spawning season. The oil could possibly kill the bluefin tuna larvae.

Sea turtles have their nesting season soon, a fish species called menhaden (used for fish meals and oil), fin whales, oysters and a bunch of birds could be really badly affected according to Greenpeace. This is the breeding season for alligators, pelicans, shrimp… large scale deaths are a clear possibility. Read more here.

Impact of oil spill on the fishing industry

If the spread of oil is not limited quickly, fishing could get seriously affected. The state of Louisiana has a fishing industry worth $265 million at dockside and has a total economic impact of $2.3 million.

John Sackton, editor and publisher of seafood.com, told the media that if the oil slick reaches Louisiana’s shrimp beds, it could have far-reaching economic consequences. The short-term effct would be that fishing for shrimp would become impossible” once waters are polluted. Fishing would have to stop wherever there is an oil problem, he said. In the long term, shrimp might not survive.

Beaches, sea shore and wetlands: Environmental impact of the Oil spill

If the oil from the burning BP oil rig reaches the sea shores, there goes your beaches. Tourism could get seriously hit. If the oil flows into the wetlands, it would be practically impossible to get rid of it afterwards, and there will be environmental effects for several years. There is a lot of effort already going into making sure that the oil slick does not reach the shores or enter the wetlands anywhere. More.

According to a report in FoxNews, George Crozier, executive director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said that he was worried about the potential long term impact on coastal marsh lands. If the oil from the Guld of Mexico oil spill comes into the passes, cleaning it would be impossible and there wold be long term economic consequences.

“It’s an accepted fact that the marshes of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — the Fertile Crescent — produce 90 percent of the seafood in the Gulf of Mexico,” Crozier told the Mississippi Press. “If you were to pave that over with an oil spill, you’d see a dramatic drop in seafood recruitment, possibly for years to come.”

According to a report in wmur.com, commercial shellfish operations in the Guld of Mexico would be impacted, with the result that dinners would get more expensive. “If they eat shrimp, much of the U.S.-based shrimp production is down there,” said UNH professor Nancy Kinner. “Much of the oyster production is down there. Much of the crab fishing is down there — commercial, big-scale stuff.”

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