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Gulf oil spill: NOAA closes some waters to fishing

Commercial and recreational fishing in the Gulf of Mexico waters affected by the massive oil leak has been restricted for 10 days, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Sunday.

“I heard the concerns of the Plaquemines Parish fishermen as well other fishermen and state fishery managers about potential economic impacts of a closure,” Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator, said in a statement. She met with more than 100 fishermen in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish on Friday night.

But “balancing economic and health concerns, this order closes just those areas that are affected by oil,” she stated. “There should be no health risk in seafood currently in the marketplace.”

The closings are from Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay. Details can be found here: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/

Fishermen who wish to contact BP about a claim should call (800) 440-0858, the agency said.

“There are finfish, crabs, oysters and shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico near the area of the oil spill,” said Roy Crabtree, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional administrator. “The gulf is such an important biologic and economic area in terms of seafood production and recreational fishing.”

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.

-- Michael Muskal

Twitter.com/LATimesmuskal
 
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