Click here for a map of the closure.
"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 Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Administrator, who met with more than 100 fishermen in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish on Friday night (April 30). "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."
Officials recognized the closure is onerous for those who depend on the waters covered by the closur for their livelihood.
"We stand with America's fisherman, their families and businesses in impacted coastal communities during this very challenging time," Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said. "Fishing is vital to our economy and our quality of life and we will work tirelessly protect to it.'"
NOAA Fisheries is working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the States to ensure seafood safety, by assessing whether seafood is tainted or contaminated to levels that pose a risk to human health.
"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. Commercial fishermen in the Gulf harvested more than 1 billion pounds of finfish and shellfish in 2008.
NOAA is working with the state governors to evaluate the need to declare a fisheries disaster in order to facilitate federal aid to fishermen in these areas. NOAA fisheries representatives in the region will be meeting with fishermen this week to assist them. The states of Louisiana and Mississippi have requested NOAA to declare a federal fisheries disaster.
BP will be hiring fishermen to help clean up from the spill and deploy boom in the Gulf of Mexico. Interested fishermen should call (425) 745-8017.
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