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Media Focus on BP Spill Anniversary Expected to Impact View of Gulf Seafood

April 3, 2012 - 6:00pm

The second anniversary is approaching of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that claimed the lives of 11 workers and spewed economic shock waves along the Gulf of Mexico.

That means the media can be expected once again to highlight the tragedy, again causing a dip in efforts to revive the image of seafood harvested from the Gulf of Mexico, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday.

From a marketing standpoint, we continue to aggressively promote Gulf seafood and our surveys indicate that when there is not an anniversary out there, people are very confident in the safety and wholesomeness and abundance of Gulf seafood, Putnam told reporters.

And every time there is an anniversary, it takes a little breather and demand falls for some period of time until all the file footage is moved off the media.

Putnam said no oil residue or dispersion has been found in any seafood sample.

The state is in the second year of a three-year marketing plan to promote Gulf seafood.

Since the April 20, 2010, spill, the state has negotiated a $20 million settlement with BP, with the money being used to test and raise awareness of seafood from the Gulf.

Putnam said the efforts have worked at various levels of success.

The state has focused on the Fresh From Florida theme as part of statewide and national advertising, and has trained more than 3,500 restaurant waiters and waitresses in Florida about how to respond when customers inquire about the safety of the catch.

Since August 2010, the department has screened more than 400 fin fish and shellfish for possible oil contamination from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, with all findings well below the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations level of concerns, according to state records.

Last July, the state launched a website -- www.MyFloridaGulfSafe.com -- designed to dispel lingering consumer concerns about the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico stemming from the spill.

A Florida TaxWatch analysis released late in 2010 showed that retailers alone in Northwest Florida missed out on $454 million in sales because of the crisis.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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