NOAA Expands Fishing Closed Area in Gulf of Mexico

July 14, 2010

Fishery Closure Boundary as of July 13, 2010. Closure area may be updated daily as necessary.

Fishery Closure Boundary as of July 13, 2010. Closure area may be updated daily as necessary.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

On July 12, NOAA expanded the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico to include portions of the oil slick moving beyond the area’s current northwestern boundary, off the Louisiana federal-state waterline. This boundary was moved westward of Holly Beach, La., and is approximately 17 statute miles from the Louisiana-Texas border.

On July 13, NOAA opened approximately 174 square miles of the closed fishing area south of Louisiana, as this area was not impacted or projected to be impacted by oil.

This federal closure does not apply to any state waters. Closing fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers.

As of July 13, the closed area represents 83,927 square miles, which is approximately 35 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. This leaves more than 65 percent of Gulf federal waters available for fishing. The closure will be effective at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/. The last closed area modification was July 12, when 84,101 square miles were closed to fishing, or roughly 35 percent of federal waters of the Gulf.

The federal and state governments have systems in place to test and monitor seafood safety, prohibit harvesting from affected areas, and keep oiled products out of the marketplace. NOAA continues to work closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the states to ensure seafood safety, by closing fishing areas where tainted seafood could potentially be caught, and assessing whether seafood is tainted or contaminated to levels that pose a risk to human health. NOAA and FDA are working to implement a broad-scaled seafood sampling plan. The plan includes sampling seafood from inside and outside the closure area, as well as dockside- and market-based sampling.

 According to NOAA, there are approximately 5.7 million recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico region and 25 million fishing trips took place in the region in 2008. Commercial fishermen in the Gulf harvested more than one billion pounds of fish and shellfish in 2008.

Fishermen who wish to contact BP about a claim should call 800-440-0858. 

NOAA will continue to evaluate the need for fisheries closures based on the evolving nature of the spill and will re-open closed areas as appropriate. NOAA will also re-evaluate the closure areas as new information that would change the boundaries of these closed areas becomes available.

NOAA has a number of methods for the public to obtain information or be notified when there is a change to the closed area:

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