NOAA expands fishing ban in federal waters - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

NOAA expands fishing ban in federal waters

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Instead of casting their nets Tuesday, fishermen and deck hands were waiting in line at a claims office set up by British Petroleum in Biloxi.  But, they aren't the only ones in need of help.

"We unload boats, and if the boats can't work, we can't work," said Billy Loper with Gollott Icehouse and Oil Dock.

People like Billy Loper and Ted Luke work for companies that supply ice and fuel to shrimpers and fishermen. They also help unload boats.

"We feel the effects; it's just a domino effect for the whole community," said Ted Luke with St. Michael's Ice and Fuel.

NOAA announced Monday that the fishing ban in the Gulf has grown from seven percent to 19 percent of federal waters. That covers an area of nearly 45,000 square miles, add another 3,000 and you could almost fit the state of Mississippi into the area the ban now covers.

Recreational and commercial fishing is not allowed, but vessels can still travel through the zone. 

Loper and Luke say they understand the need to test the marine life in the restricted waters and keep the supply safe.  But they say it's still a hard pill to swallow when it's your livelihood on the line.

"It's widespread; it affects the whole community," Loper said.

The restricted area still does not expand into Mississippi waters.  However, NOAA strongly advises fisherman not to fish in areas where oil or oil sheen is present, even if those areas are not currently closed to fishing.

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