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State plans to promote safety of Gulf seafood

BILOXI — The state of Mississippi is negotiating with BP for money to promote the safety of Gulf of Mexico seafood.

Officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources tell WLOX-TV in Biloxi that they want to combat negative publicity from the oil spill with the “Gulf Safe” campaign.

The television station reported many people who lined up at the Biloxi harbor to buy fresh shrimp on Sunday said they had no reservations about buying seafood from the Gulf.

However, state officials said there are plenty of others who think the seafood isn’t safe because of misperceptions about the impact of the oil spill.

“I always talk to people about what they think about the oil spill and what they think about what we dealt with here in Mississippi, “said Dale Diaz, director of Marine Fisheries with the MDMR,

“A lot of times what I find is people think we were ankle deep in heavy oil and that’s just not the case. We’re trying to get the word out that we’ve tested seafood extensively. We are going to continue to do so. All of our tests show that seafood is completely safe.”

The Gulf Safe campaign already has distributed flyers, posters and other literature.

Now officials are ready to promote Gulf seafood on a larger scale.

“We’re putting up some billboards that will hopefully be up in a month or so on Interstate 10 eastbound and westbound and Highway 49,” said Diaz.

“We’re working with BP right now to secure some money for seafood promotion and whenever that money is secure we’re going to ramp the program up and try to start getting the word out nationally about Gulf safe seafood.”

State officials said they would like to see the government purchase more Gulf seafood for schools and jails as a way to help financially strapped seafood processors and dealers.

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