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The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused a devastating and lasting effect on two of the area’s biggest industries: tourism and seafood.

The BP oil spill began in April 2010 and lasted for nearly 90 days, causing not only environmental harm, but economic harm as well.

Brian Mayer, an environmental sociologist at the UA, has been studying the oil spill and its effects. He said that tourism dollars are back to levels seen before the incident.

However, Mayer said this comeback is artificial, because of the millions of dollars BP has spent on advertising for tourism in the coast. This year will be the first such funds won't be available. And, the major question in that issue is whether or not tourism in the gulf will continue to grow without the advertisement money.

When it comes to the seafood industry in the area, Mayer said things are not looking well.

“The seafood industry has yet to bounce back," he said. "They’re still struggling to recover."

One of the problems these places face is how they are going to get the market share back into the industry. Also, small independent seafood farmers are going out of business, because they can’t compete with the international market and the larger growers, Mayer said.

Another issue faced by the seafood industry is the fear of contamination. Assumptions that there may be toxins in the food could cause people to buy their seafood from other coastal areas.

“When the spill hit, surveys suggested that 75 percent of Americans thought the gulf was contaminated, and the seafood caught from there would hurt them,” Mayer said. "This turned out not to be the case."

Although Mayer said there is no reason for concern, about 33 percent of Americans still believe the seafood from the gulf is contaminated.

Ashley Grove is a journalism student and an intern for Arizona Public Media

This story is part of Arizona Public Media's week-long series on poverty.