That doesn’t mean Gulf Coast fishermen don’t have a right to blame the media for some part of their troubles, but the most important question is whether or not the state and federal authorities are making wise decisions about when and where to prohibit fishing. Yet another Times article told of a charismatic shrimper who felt that “It’s not oil that is keeping his boats docked – it’s the state.” The man said he would defy a state ban on collecting shrimp in his area because there was no oil there—a seemingly frivolous ban—but the state reopened the area before he had the chance to do so.

Indeed, the state and federal authorities seem to be actively monitoring the spill’s impacts, closing and opening large and small swaths of water as the slick moves. As I finish writing this column, the Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife is partially reopening areas to the west of the Mississippi River that were closed when I started. The impacts of the closures and media coverage on the livelihood of fishermen must not be taken lightly, however, and it would be nice to see more thorough and critical analyses of how well fishing authorities are handling their job.

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.