Other news outlets also did their part to dispel the rumors. After thirty-eight dead sea turtles washed up along the Gulf Coast in early May, blog posts at Web sites like The Huffington Post proclaimed that “endangered sea turtles have emerged as the flag species of the BP Gulf Mexico oil spill.” But many in the “mainstream” media quickly refuted such claims by reporting that a series of necropsies performed by NOAA found no link between the turtle deaths and the spill.
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.