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An additional 8,000-plus square miles of gulf waters reopened to fishing

November 16, 2010 | 10:50 am

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials announced the reopening of 8,403 square miles of Gulf of Mexico waters to recreational and commercial fishing.

The area extends from the Louisiana state water line to due south of the Alabama/Florida state line and was reopened after fin fish and shrimp caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts showed no signs of contamination.

The reopening was announced Monday after consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and under a reopening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA and the gulf states.

"This is the first reopening where we have added a supplemental test to detect dispersants in seafood, and all the samples passed," said Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator and undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. "This is yet another indication that our gulf seafood is safe for consumption."

NOAA will continue to take samples for testing from the newly reopened area and maintain dockside and market-based sampling to test fish caught throughout the gulf by commercial fishermen.

NOAA first instituted the fishing closure, which eventually encompassed more than 88,000 square miles of federal waters, on May 2 following the April 20 explosion of a British Petroleum oil rig located in the gulf. An area covering 1,041 square miles immediately surrounding the wellhead remains closed to fishing.

-- Kelly Burgess

Image: Area (in hash marks) reopened to fishing on Monday. Credit: NOAA


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