Monday, May 03, 2010

NOAA Closes Fishing In Oil-Affected Portions of Gulf

NOAA Closes Commercial and Recreational Fishing in Oil-Affected Portion of Gulf of Mexico

NOAA is restricting fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay (map attached). The closure is effective immediately.


Fishermen who wish to contact BP about a claim should call 800-440-0858.

NOAA scientists are on the ground in the area of the oil spill taking water and seafood samples in an effort to ensure the safety of the seafood and fishing activities. Balancing economic and health
concerns, this order closes just those areas that are affected by oil. The federal and state governments have strong systems in place to test and monitor seafood safety and to prohibit harvesting from affected areas and keeping oiled products out of the marketplace. NOAA Fisheries is working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the States to ensure seafood safety, by assessing whether seafood is tainted or contaminated to levels that pose a risk to human health.

According to NOAA, there are 3.2 million recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico region who took 24 million fishing trips in 2008. Commercial fishermen in the Gulf harvested more than 1 billion pounds of finfish and shellfish in 2008.

NOAA is working with the state governors to evaluate the need to declare a fisheries disaster in order to facilitate federal aid to fishermen in these areas. NOAA fisheries representatives in the region will be meeting with fishermen this week to assist them. The states of Louisiana and Mississippi have requested NOAA to declare a federal fisheries disaster. BP will be hiring fishermen to help clean up from the spill and deploy boom in the Gulf of Mexico. Interested fishermen should call 425-745-8017.

NOAA will continue to evaluate the need for fisheries closures based on the evolving nature of the spill and will re-open the fisheries as appropriate. NOAA will also re-evaluate the closure areas as new information that would change the dimension of these closed areas becomes available.

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