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Seafood testing begins when there’s no longer visible oil in a particular area. First, inspectors smell samples for oil. Then comes testing at federal or state laboratories. To reopen seafood harvesting, the samples must test below Food and Drug Administration-set levels of concern for 12 different potential cancer-causing substances. BP also used chemical dispersants to break up the crude, but the government has not yet developed a test for the materials in seafood.

Shrimpers also are concerned about how much they’ll be able to make on their product.

“I don’t think people are worried so much about the resource, but the price,” said Rusty Gaude, fishery agent for the Louisiana State University Sea Grant Program.

And fishermen need to know what waters are open.

Slowly, more and more waters closed because of the spill are reopening. However, shrimping remains forbidden in federal waters off Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and most of the catches have come off Texas and Florida, said Roy Crabtree, the regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service’s southeast region.

Associated Press writers Lauran Neergaard in Washington and Harry R. Weber and Tom Breen in New Orleans; video journalist Mark Carlson in Buras, La.; and photographer Gerald Herbert in Grand Isle, La., contributed to this article.