The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is not as big as we feared it would be this year with the massive amounts of water that came down the Mississippi River in the spring. So said Nancy Rabalais, scientist with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.
That is a relief to hear, considering they were expecting the zone to cover more than 8,500 square miles. The 6,765 square miles recorded was big enough, however, and does not relieve us of continuing efforts to reduce it.
The zone has been created annually for many years by the flow of fertilizer from farms in the midwest into the river. When it enters the Gulf, it causes the growth of algae. When they die, oxygen is sucked out of the water which kills the fish.
It is a great threat to the fishing industry of south Louisiana and its commercial seafood production for the entire country. It is also a threat to the economy of our state.
Efforts have been made in the past to reduce the amount of fertilizer that enters the river but apparently they have failed. Farmers were left to voluntarily avoid such spillage that threatens the seafood industry.
It certainly should be within the federal government’s sphere of regulating the spread of poisons into our waterways. That is one of the useful functions it can serve.
Hopefully, the threat this year of a much higher growth of algae in the Gulf will encourage some stricter regulations and the setting of definite targets to end this burden on our wildlife.
Rigid enforcement will be necessary to quit killing our fish in the Gulf of Mexico.