Oil spill restricts fishing in U.S. Gulf

May 3, 2010 at 11:33 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- Commercial and recreational fishing is restricted in the Gulf of Mexico for more than a week because of an oil spill off the Louisiana coast, officials said.

The Deepwater Horizon oil platform caught fire and sank April 22 about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, spilling oil into the U.S. Gulf at a rate of around 5,000 barrels per day.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced during the weekend that fishing was restricted in federal waters near the mouth of the Mississippi River and Pensacola Bay in Florida.

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said scientists are in the spill area collecting water and seafood samples to monitor for adverse health conditions.

"Balancing economic and health concerns, this order closes just those areas that are affected by oil," she said. "There should be no health risk in seafood currently in the marketplace."

Oil from the spill began lapping on shore Friday. The governments of Louisiana and Mississippi have called on NOAA to declare a national disaster for the U.S. fishing industry because of the spill.

NOAA said that BP, which as the operator of the platform is responsible for the spill, is hiring local fisherman to help respond to the disaster.

NOAA said commercial fisherman harvested more than 1 billion pounds of fish in the gulf in 2008.

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