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Florida Trying to Improve Image of Seafood from Gulf

December 5, 2011 - 6:00pm

Florida continues working to improve the public perception of seafood harvested from the Gulf of Mexico.

The state advertised its Fresh From Florida theme during the nationally televised Florida-Florida State football game and trained more than 3,500 restaurant waiters and waitresses in Florida about how to respond when customers inquire as to the safety of the catch.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said more than 600 tests have been conducted on finfish and shellfish for oil contamination, with the findings well below U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved levels.

We have to tell that story to the world, Putnam said. Weve done that with print ads, TV ads.

BP, on its website, states that it has committed $10 million for three years of seafood testing, and another $10 million for seafood marketing in Florida.

Another $9 million has been set aside for seafood testing and marketing in Alabama, while $61 million is going for testing and marketing in Louisiana.

Mississippi remains in discussions with BP over money for seafood testing and marketing.

In July, the state launched a website -- -- designed to dispel lingering consumer concerns about the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico due to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill.

On Monday, the Environmental Defense Fund released a study by Duke University that claimed nearly 40 businesses in Florida would directly benefit by using BP oil disaster money -- $5 billion to $21 billion -- for coastal restoration projects.

Long-term ecosystem restoration would be an economic grand slam because it both protects current jobs in key Florida industries -- like fishing, tourism and shipping -- and creates new jobs, Jackie Prince Roberts, director of sustainable technologies for the Environmental Defense Fund, stated in a release.

A study of Everglades restoration by Mather Economics -- based on data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- estimates that every $1 million of public investment in restoring the Everglades would create about 20 jobs. Our study helps Florida residents understand where those jobs can be created, and the opportunity Florida has to be a leader in this new industry sector that provides ecosystem restoration services to the Gulf, and to meet emerging global demand."

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on the RESTORE Act, HR 3096, that would dedicate 80 percent of the money set aside through Clean Water Act fines from the Deepwater Horizon spill for restoration efforts.

Reach Jim Turner at or (772) 215-9889.

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