Dead zone off La-Texas coast to grow

By 2008 Associated Press
Houston Chronicle; June 9, 2008

NEW ORLEANS — An area of oxygen-depleted waters off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas could grow this summer to 10,084 square miles, about as large as the state of Massachusetts, to the greatest expanse mapped.
That forecast from scientists at Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium is based on nitrate loads from the Mississippi River. Shelfwide mapping began in 1985.
R. Eugene Turner, who led the modeling effort, said May is a critical month for influencing the size of the so-called "dead zone," and that nitrate loading this year was exceptionally high.
Turner said in a statement that intensive farming — including working land for crops used to make biofuels — has "definitely contributed" to the high rate of nitrogen loading.
The dead zone poses a threat to aquatic life and is of particular concern to the region’s commercial fishing industry.