Laboratory confirmed oil-soaked sorbent pad. (Photo Ã
The State of Mississippi's Department of Marine Resources (DMR) opened all of its territorial waters to fishing on August 6. This was done in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Food and Drug Administration, despite concerns from commercial fishermen in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida about the presence of oil and toxic dispersants from the BP oil disaster.
On August 19, Truthout accompanied two commercial fishermen from Mississippi on a trip into the Mississippi Sound in order to test for the presence of submerged oil. Laboratory test results from samples taken on that trip show extremely high concentrations of oil in the Mississippi Sound.
James "Catfish" Miller and Mark Stewart, both lifelong fishermen, have refused to trawl for shrimp because they believe the Mississippi Sound contains submerged oil.
James "Catfish" Miller, third-generation fisherman. (Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
"I can't tell you how hard it is for me not to be shrimping right now, because I'm a trawler," Miller told Truthout as he piloted his shrimp boat out of Pass Christian Harbor, "That's what I do. I trawl."
But Miller and Stewart have been alarmed by their state's decision to reopen the waters, and have been conducting their own tests for oil in areas where they have fished for years. Their method was simple - they tied an absorbent pad to a weighted hook, dropped it overboard for a short duration of time, then pulled it up to find the results.
Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, is the author of "The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan," (Haymarket Books, 2009), and "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq," (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from occupied Iraq for nine months as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last five years.
Erika Blumenfeld is an internationally exhibiting artist and Guggenheim Fellow with a BFA in Photography from Parsons School of Design. She is known for her Light Recordings series, and her ambitious work The Polar Project, a series of environment-focused artworks that document the environment of Antarctica and the Arctic. Blumenfeld’s installations have been exhibited widely in galleries and museums in the US and abroad, and have been featured in /Art In America/, /ARTnews/ and more than half a dozen books. She is posting her photographs of the Gulf Coast on her blog.