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Local Seafood Workers Brace As No Fish Zone Expands

Environment Politics +1 more

US - The oil spill has forced over 23 miles of Florida's coastline to close and local seafood producers are praying that it doesn't come any closer.

Ike Thomas, manager of My Way Seafood told WCTV that he's proud to sell fresh Florida fish, but he's not sure how long that will last. And if the closure in the Gulf reaches Panacea it could mean the end of business.

"We basically sell all fresh from Florida seafood. So with that I don't deal with the imports so I just don't have any way to make any money whatsoever. So that would be the end of My Way Seafood," said Mr Thomas.

The oil spill has forced the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other state agencies to temporarily close a portion of coastal state waters offshore of Escambia County to those fishing for crabs, shrimp and saltwater fish.

But there's some hope for shellfish lovers. The Division of Aquaculture, which regulates oysters, clams, and mussels has yet to close any estuaries or bays in Florida.

"If we have liquefied oil products, being oil sheen, emulsified oil, which is mixed with water, the gooey stuff then we will close when that material enters the actual shellfish harvesting areas. Which in some cases is just a portion of a bay or estuary, not necessarily the whole thing," explained Alan Peirce, the Bureau Chief of Aquaculture Environmental Services.

But for now Thomas and others who are in the same boat are left waiting to see this man-made disaster unfold. "You sit here and you just wonder what can be done to stop this, and if it will ever stop," said Mr Thomas.

The Division of Aquaculture has gone out to run tests on shellfish so the data can be compared if and when the oil invades those shellfish harvesting areas.