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Commerce Secretary Locke Pool Report, August 16, 2010

GULF COAST–(ENEWSPF)–August 16, 2010.  Making his third visit to the Gulf of Mexico region since June, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke toured a seafood processing plant this morning in Lafitte, La., a fishing village about 25 miles south of New Orleans.

Michael Chan, manager of Lafitte Frozen Foods, said business is down about 80 percent because of the oil spill.

“We’ve been getting shrimp from Texas, Mississippi, the Carolinas, and a little bit from Alabama. But, hopefully, we’ll be getting it from Louisiana in a few days,” Chan said, referring to this morning’s opening of the first commercial shrimping season since the spill.

Locke took a 20-minute tour of the plant, where machines separated, peeled and washed shrimp from North Carolina and Texas.

“We need to let the American people know that the seafood being harvested from the Gulf is safe to eat,” Locke said. “I think there have been a lot of misperceptions out there. A lot of testing is done before we open state and federal waters to fishing. We’re being very thoughtful, very careful and very deliberate.”

Locke stopped to chat with Doris Rojas, 65, who was plucking broken bits of shrimp from a conveyor belt.

“You don’t have any problem eating seafood from the Gulf, do you?” Locke asked.

“No, sir,” Rojas answered.

Rojas said she has been averaging about 10 hours of work per week, down from the 75 to 80 hours she said she normally works during the peak of fishing season.
“Oh, sure. It’s no problem,” she said when questioned about her workload. “I’ve got to pay my bills.”

At one point, Locke stepped briefly into a walk-in blast freezer and emerged with his eye glasses frosted over.

“That’s why I had Lasik surgery,” an employee told Locke.

“Oh, that would be a good commercial,” Locke said, holding his glasses in his hand. “How long do they stay frozen?”

After the tour, Locke met privately with company officials for about 15 minutes before leaving for Drago’s Seafood Restaurant in suburban Metairie, where he was to have lunch with seafood industry representatives and restaurant owners affected by the spill.

 

Source: deepwaterhorizonresponse.com

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