NOAA has issued an emergency closure on fishing in federal waters affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon incident. This emergency curtailment of all fishing covers federal waters from the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida's Pensacola Bay, effective immediately (May 2, 2010).
Closure has initially been set for a minimum of 10 days. Details can be found here: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/ This closure comes on the heels of the closing of Louisiana inshore waters east of the Mississippi River, which was announced Friday.
"There are finfish, crabs, oysters and shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico near the area of the oil spill," said Roy Crabtree, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Administrator. "The Gulf is such an important biologic and economic area in terms of seafood production and recreational fishing."
According to NOAA, there are 3.2 million recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico region who took 24 million fishing trips in 2008. NOAA is working with the state governors to evaluate the need to declare a fisheries disaster.
NOAA will continue to evaluate the need for fisheries closures based on the evolving nature of the spill and will re-open the fisheries as appropriate. NOAA will also re-evaluate the closure areas as new information that would change the dimension of these closed areas becomes available.