Fishing areas closed since BP spill reopen Monday

Four areas of the Gulf and inshore waters closed since the BP oil spill reopened Monday. It's another sign of recovery, but some say it's still too slow.

One day before the disaster, oyster boats harvested in Bay Batiste. Then the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in April of 2010, pumping more than 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. Bay Batiste and other waters around Plaquemines, Jefferson and Lafourche parishes would be closed for the next four years.

"I thought, if you looked at interviews three-and-a-half, four years ago, I thought things would be normal by now," said Al Sunseri, general manager of P&J Oyster Company. "We had a spillway opening, and usually following the spillway opening, everything comes back tenfold, and it didn't happen this time, so it's up to Mother Nature."

Sunseri said oyster populations have been down since the spill, and he's curious to see what the numbers are like now that the state has reopened some areas. Sunseri said harvesters plan to return to those waters this week, but he worries it could be more of the same.

"We used to handle at least double the oysters that we handle today," Sunseri said. "The quality of the oysters being harvested are not what they used to be, not because there aren't quality oysters out there, it's just the amount of quality oysters that are out there - it's just a much smaller amount."

Even so, state leaders say Louisiana seafood and its popularity around the country are rebounding.

"There was a lot of misperception around America about the quality and quantity of Gulf seafood, particularly in the early days when I was lieutenant governor right in the wake of the spill, but now those days are pretty much behind us."

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will continue to monitor the waters, and could close them again if more oil surfaces.

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