When I went to lunch yesterday, the waiter rattled off daily specials that included several types of fish and shellfish. "Don't worry," he said. "None of our seafood is coming from the Gulf coast right now."
It raised an interesting question. How do we know what seafood sources to avoid, and when to avoid them? I'd like to keep supporting Florida fisherman…as long as I can know what's safe.
Turns out the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services just launched a hotline that delivers get up-to-date information about what seafood is safe. It's updated every day at 2 p.m. with the status of open and closed fishing areas and the availability (and prices) of different varieties of seafood.
I called it today, and here's what I learned from the cheerful recording:
Update for Friday, June 11: All Florida waters are open for fishing. Grouper, amberjack, red snapper, and clams are available and in steady supply. (Prices are normal.) Shrimp are in steady supply though some reports indicate less availability of larger-sized shrimp. (Prices are up slighty.)
Just who exactly is monitoring our waters? The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are "continually monitoring water and product samples," according to a release by the FDPCS.
"If and when the quality of Florida seafood is impacted by the spill, we will take immediate action to close the waters to commercial seafood harvesting," said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson (yes, his real name) in a formal statement. "Our commercial fishermen take great pride in the quality reputation Florida seafood products have earned, and we would never put any product on the market that would tarnish this hard-earned reputation."