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7,000 Square Miles Reopened In Gulf Of Mexico

by the Fish Site Editor
19 October 2010, at 1:00am

US - NOAA has reopened to commercial and recreational fishing 6,879 square miles of Gulf waters about 180-200 nautical miles south of the Florida panhandle, between the Florida-Alabama state line and Cape San Blas, Florida. This is the ninth reopening in federal waters since July 22.

This reopening was announced after consultation with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and under a reopening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

“Each reopening is a reassuring sign that areas once impacted by oil can again support sustainable fishing activities” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Tourists and consumers should know most Gulf waters are open for fishing and seafood from these waters is safe to eat.”

The total area reopened today is about three per cent of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico and 29 per cent of the current closed area, as last modified on October 5. No oil or sheen has been documented in the area since July 13. At its closest point, the area to be reopened is about 110 miles southeast of the Deepwater Horizon BP wellhead.

NOAA sampled this area between August 7 through September 18 for finfish, including tuna, swordfish, and mahi mahi. Sensory analyses of 126 finfish samples and chemical analyses of 121 finfish samples in 31 composites followed the methodology and procedures in the reopening protocol, with sensory analysis finding no detectable oil or dispersant odours or flavours, and results of chemical analysis for oil-related compounds well below the levels of concern.

NOAA will continue to take samples for testing from the newly reopened area. The agency will also continue dockside sampling to test fish caught throughout the Gulf by commercial fishermen.

the Fish Site Editor