Despite Grounding, Oysters In Biscay Safe To Eat21 December 2011
FRANCE - After a Turkish freighter, TK Bremen grounded in the Bay of Biscay last week and punctured the bunker tank, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Bruno Le Maire has said that French oysters from the Bay are still safe to eat.
Oil slick has formed around the vessel and some reports state that up to 220 tons of fuel was released into the water. Clean up operations are underway. The vessel was caught in a storm and blown off course - the fact it left port knowing a storm was expected has been described as "scandalous" and "completely irresponsible".
At a tasting session at the Etel River to reassure consumers and support the struggling oyster industry, Minister Le Maire said: "There is no problem in eating these high quality oysters. If there was any risk to public health I would tell you. But there is no risk - these are healthy oyster."
Meeting with the industry, Minister Le Maire assured producers that no operation would shut down due to financial difficulties resulting from an environmental disaster of which producers were not responsible.
The French oyster industry employs thousands of people, and the Minister said that the government would do its best to help this industry get through the problem.
The oyster industry has been struggling over the past two years, with outbreaks of oyster herpesvirus killing off youngstock.
Five oyster farms in the Ria of Etel have been placed under quarantine following the grounding of the freighter. The Minister said that many oysters had not been affected as they had already been placed in onshore ponds in anticipation of the holidays.
The Christmas season is the most important for the oyster industry and can generate up to 90 per cent of business turnover.
Preliminary tests have shown no affects from pollution in the River Etel. More analysis will continue over the week.
TheFishSite News Desk