Gulf Shrimpers Doubtful Despite Fed Assurances

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President Barack Obama has declared Gulf Coast beaches safe after a family vacation to the Florida panhandle over the weekend.

Many fear the beaches were contaminated by toxic oil from the massive oil spill, but the president has insisted that is not the case.
    
White House officials said Obama and his daughter Sasha took a swim in the Gulf waters.

"That's one of the reasons Michelle, Sasha and I are here," Obama said Saturday. "[Florida Gov. Charlie Crist] and others invited us down to enjoy the beach and the water - to let our fellow Americans know that they should come down here - and not just to support the region, but also because it's a beautiful place to visit."
    
Despite the president's assurances, many Gulf shrimpers are concerned about how much damage the shrimp population has suffered from the lengthy oil spill.

With Monday marking the beginning of the first commercial season since the spill, fears abound that some fishermen may attempt to sell oil-contaminated fish.

However, Ravin Lacoste of Theriot, La. expressed doubts his fellow shrimper would be so unwise as to turn in a bad catch.

"If you put bad shrimp on the market - we in enough trouble now with our shrimp," Lacoste said. "You might can go in the closed waters and catch more shrimp. But it ain't worth it."

Meanwhile, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is scheduled to travel to Louisiana on Monday to meet with seafood industry representatives and businesses affected by the spill. It will be his third visit to the region since June.

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