[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish races to protect "inner islands" from oil spill

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sun May 9 12:33:10 EDT 2010

St. Bernard Parish races to protect "inner islands" from oil spill

by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News


Posted on May 8, 2010 at 6:14 PM

ST. BERNARD, La. - More than 20 miles west of the Chandeleur Islands, oil
containment boom now encircles Comfort Island. It is the first of a series
of so-called "inner islands," which make up the St. Bernard Parish Coast.

"it's important to protect these inner islands," said Gary Vitrano, a
biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. "A lot of
birds will use these islands as nesting grounds and right now it's

As crews try to protect this small patch of land, other fishermen spent
Saturday laying out oil boom further inland, along the delicate coastal
marshes of the parish. Even as St. Bernard fishermen continue to lay out oil
containment and absorbent boom, parish officials said they still do not have
enough oil containment boom to protect the coast. The need: 100,000 more
feet of boom, in order to help protect a coastline that is more than 40
miles long.

"We keep running against the clock," said St. Bernard Parish President Craig
Taffaro. "We may get some reprieve and get another extra day or two, but
sooner or later, we're going to be out of time and we hope before then we
have enough resources."

While fishermen and officials worried about keeping out the oil, Louisiana
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officers focused on keeping out private
fishermen from the closed waters east of the Mississippi River. On Saturday,
officers encountered two boats, with people fishing in Bayou La Loutre.

"We have had some enforcement issues with that," said Sgt. Jason Russo of
LDWF. "For those most part, it's been pretty compliant."

The officers are also out with biologists, on seven different boats,
searching the St. Bernard coast for wildlife and marine life, which may have
come in contact with the oil spill.

"The oil is still 20 miles from us right now, in the sound, so really our
biologists and enforcement agents probably be the people who come in contact
first with any distressed wildlife," Vitrano said.

Biologists have also taken tissue samples of fish, shrimp and oysters from
the waters of coastal St. Bernard. They plan to create a baseline that will
be used to test the safety of seafood coming out of those waters.

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