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Gulf oil spill: More fishing areas closed

May 7, 2010 | 12:04 pm

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Friday expanded the boundaries of its no-fishing zones to better reflect the growing and drifting plume of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well blowout. The ban also was extended to May 17.

NOAA noted that the closure affects 4.5% of federal waters, up from 3% in the previous closure order. "The vast majority of Gulf waters has not been affected by the oil spill and continues to support productive fisheries and tourism activities," a NOAA statement said.

The agency, which also is sampling and testing fish, water and deep-sea sediment, plans to continue meeting with fishermen in the oil-affected area to listen to their concerns and share with them what it has learned so far about how the oil might be affecting their potential seafood catch.

“NOAA stands shoulder to shoulder with Gulf Coast fishermen and their families during these challenging times,” said agency director Jane Lubchenco. “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.”

The agency is working with the Food and Drug Administration as well as authorities in states affected by the spill. Louisiana and Mississippi have requested a federal fisheries disaster be declared, a move that is under consideration by NOAA.

-- Geoff Mohan