By STACEY PLAISANCE
HOPEDALE, La. (AP) - Oyster harvests along the Gulf Coast have declined dramatically in the four years since the BP oil spill.
Even after a slight rebound last year, thousands of acres of Louisiana oyster beds are producing less than a third of what they did before the nation's worst offshore oil disaster.
Louisiana used to produce one-third of the nation's oyster harvest - up to 7 million pounds of meat a year. The total haul in 2012 was barely half a million pounds, and last year was back up to almost 1 million.
Whether the spill from a BP PLC well contributed to the decline is part of an ongoing study. The oyster industry had already been under stress before the spill from hurricanes, overfishing and two straight years of oyster-killing fresh water.