Louisiana's $ 2.4 billion a year commercial and recreational fishing industry is dealt its first major blow from the oil spill as the US government bans activities for 10 days due to health concerns.
"NOAA is restricting fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida's Pensacola Bay. The closure is effective immediately," said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Louisiana accounts for an estimated one-third of the country's total oyster output, and the Gulf of Mexico are prime spawning waters for fish, shrimp and crabs, as well as a major stop for migratory birds.
"NOAA scientists are on the ground in the area of the oil spill taking water and seafood samples in an effort to ensure the safety of the seafood and fishing activities," said NOAA administrator, Doctor Jane Lubchenco, quoted in the statement yesterday.
"I heard the concerns of the Plaquemines Parish fishermen as well other fishermen and state fishery managers about potential economic impacts of a closure," said Lubchenko, who met with more than 100 fishermen on Friday night.
"Balancing economic and health concerns, this order closes just those areas that are affected by oil. There should be no health risk in seafood currently in the marketplace."