NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Stop worrying about it and start buying it.
That's the message state leaders are trying to get out about Louisiana seafood.
State health officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said his department has tested about 12,000 specimens from state waters and open fishing areas in the Gulf since the BP oil spill.
'So, in spite of the fact that everybody's worried and there's a lot of precaution being taken and there's a lot of interest in this, the sampling we've done so far has not indicated that the seafood has anything that would impact health,' said Guidry.
Thursday, seafood inspector Gary LaPinto gave some black drum from Lake Pontchartrain the sniff test. He said it's easy to tell the good fish from the bad.
'If there was some type of taint to it, you would pick up a gas smell or maybe a slight petroleum smell,' said LaPinto. 'If it was more tainted, you would probably pick up some nasal burning.'
Seafood is a three billion dollar business in Louisiana.
Cliff Hall from New Orleans Fish House, one of the largest seafood distributors in the state, said his sales are off by about 30 percent.
'As you can look in my cooler right now, I have several racks that are empty, that would normally have black drum and sheep head at this time of the year,' said Hall. 'I'd have some fresh shrimp in here at this time of the year, but it's just not available to us at this moment.'
The Eurofins Central Analytical Lab in Metairie does much of the testing for the state Department of Health and Hospitals.
Lab Director John Reuther said tests show fish have a natural filtering process.
'The contaminants are generally not accumulated or not concentrated in the muscle tissue or the edible tissue and that they are usually passed through the organism, through the animal very, very quickly,' said Reuther. 'If they do accumulate it will in not edible tissues like kidney or liver tissue.'
The state is asking BP to pay for a new 5-year seafood monitoring program.
Inspectors would test 400 samples of shrimp, crab, oysters and finfish each month in the coastal parishes and waters to help insure safety in the local fisheries.
That program would cost more than $450 million.
Right now, 80,000 square miles, about 34 percent of the Gulf, remains closed to commercial fishing because of the BP oil spill.