BP points to 'significant progress' since the oil spill

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - BP says the Gulf of Mexico is undergoing a "robust recovery"in the four years since the oil spill. The company released a report this week outlining the progress that's been made since the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010. That report looks at tourism, fishing and the environment.

The BP report talks about record tourism numbers in the gulf region. And while it's true the Alabama and Florida coasts have enjoyed record numbers, that's not the case here in Mississippi.

Tourists who enjoy the Biloxi Shrimping Trip still ask questions about "the spill."

"'What happened with the BP oil spill? Do y'all still get any?' And that type of thing. We always have that type of question. It's not as bad as it used to be," said Michael Moore, who operates the tour boat.

As for his business rebounding...

"Immediately, tourism was pretty much ruined for a little while. But little by little we've been getting better and better and right now we're doing pretty good. But we can always do a little bit better," he said.

BP's progress report says recreational fishing has rebounded strongly. But charter boat captains like Dustin Trochesset still worry about oil spill impacts.

"There's a lot of concerns," he said.

Smaller fish in size and number are raising red flags.

"Lasting impacts of the dispersant and the oil that was in the water. We caught a lot of fish last year that were smaller than normal. And we didn't catch as many fish of certain species that we're used to catching," said Trochesset.

On the subject of commercial fishing, the BP progress report says commercial fish landings in the year 2011 were at their highest level since 2002.

But the report also notes that shrimp landings last year were off more than two percent and blue crab landings in 2012 were down three percent and oysters down that same year by 19 percent, although the report notes the likely culprit in that case was freshwater diversion.

DMR Director Jamie Miller says battling public perceptions about seafood safety was among the biggest challenges these past four years.

"Initially, certainly the economic impact of people not buying seafood, not being able to harvest, not being able to process. It certainly had the immediate impact economically. And so in order to counter that, you have to show evidence of it being safe,. So that's what we've been doing for several years," said Director Miller.

Read the full report from BP here: http://bit.ly/P5Anfw

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