November 26, 2010

4,200 Square Miles of Gulf Waters Closed To Shrimping

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Wednesday closed a section of the Gulf of Mexico to shrimping near the area where the massive oil spill earlier this year stemmed from as a precautionary move after a commercial fisherman found balls of tar in his shrimping net.

NOAA said the closed area is about 4,200 square miles of Gulf federal waters off Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and affects royal red shrimping.

The move was taken after a "commercial shrimper, having hauled in his catch of the deep water shrimp, discovered tar balls in his net," NOAA said in a statement to AFP.

This was the first closing since more than 99 percent of area waters had reopened to fishing after the Gulf recovered from the massive BP oil spill that was capped in July.

"Fishing for royal red shrimp is conducted by pulling fishing nets across the bottom of the ocean floor. The tar balls found in the catch may have been entrained in the net as it was dragged along the seafloor," NOAA said.

"Other fishing at shallower depths in this area has not turned up any tar balls and is thus not impacted by this closure. The fisherman who reported this catch had trawled for brown shrimp in shallow waters in a different portion of the area to be closed earlier in the day without seeing tar balls," it added.

The region is still recovering from the disastrous impact the oil spill had on the Gulf's environment and economy, where more than 88,000 square miles of Gulf waters were once closed to fishing and shrimping earlier this year.


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