July 31, 2010

Parts Of Louisiana Fishing Ground Reopened

Louisiana said that it has reopened wide swaths of state fishing ground that were closed in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill after seafood testing.

The state's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said, while working in coordination with the FDA, that "commercial fishing will reopen for finfish and shrimp in portions of state waters east of the Mississippi River."

Other areas remain closed to Louisiana's fishing and shrimping community, which has faced devastation due to the closure of state and federal waters fouled by crude that spilled from a ruptured well off the state's coastline.

The closures were ordered in order to try and prevent oil-contaminated seafood from being caught and served, but the state and FDA said "extensive sensory testing and analytical chemistry results" showed "the fish samples tested from previously closed areas are safe for consumption."

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the FDA was "confident all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that seafood harvested from the waters being opened today is safe."

She said fishermen in the area stressed the importance of getting back to work, but "also a real commitment to protecting the health of their customers."

"We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners in all of the Gulf states to reopen affected waters as quickly and safely as possible."

A third of federal Gulf of Mexico fishing waters were closed during the oil spill.  A portion of the closed area was reopened July 22, which left about 7,539 square miles of federal fishing waters off-limits.

The oil spill is the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Engineers have placed a temporary cap over the leaking well, and they are now working to try and implement the first of two permanent capping measures early next week.


Image Caption: National Seafood Inspection Laboratory in Pascagoula. Sensory analysis is a method used to evaluate the smell, look and taste of seafood that is part of the NOAA-FDA program to ensure the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA photo by Monica Allen.


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