The areas closed to fishing in the Gulf of Mexico have expanded further to the east and south, now encompassing 37% of U.S. federal waters (map attached). The closure also expanded slightly northward to the Mississippi and Alabama state water lines (3 miles from shore). South and southwest winds over the next few days are expected to push the slick closer to the shorelines of Mississippi and Alabama, and there have already been some reports of oil along those coastlines. Most of the eastern half of Louisiana state waters remains closed to fishing and seafood harvest because of the presence of oil and Mississippi has closed a portion of state waters as well. In better news, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals re-opened some of the western Louisiana oyster harvesting areas because oil was never detected in those areas (the closures were precautionary). See Fishery Closure Map.
You may have heard that the U.S. Department of Commerce declared a “fishery disaster” in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. This declaration is not in reference to the status or health of the fish populations, it is in reference to the potential economic impacts on fishermen and seafood related businesses. The declaration of a fisheries disaster allows the federal government to mobilize a range of assistance measures for fishermen and fishing communities and was requested by the state governors because of the loss of access to many fisheries and the current and potential environmental damage caused by the oil.
-Megan Westmeyer, Chefs Collaborative Board Member & Program Coordinator for Sustainable Seafood at the South Carolina Aquarium
NOAA Fisheries Service – http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/
NOAA Office of Response and Restoration – http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/index.php
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries – http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources – http://www.dmr.state.ms.us/
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command – www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com <http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com>