NOAA reopens more Gulf waters to fishermen

WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) – NOAA on Friday reopened 6,879 square miles of Gulf waters to commercial and recreational fishing. The area is about 180-200 nautical miles south of the Florida panhandle, between the Florida-Alabama state line and Cape San Blas, Florida.

This is the ninth reopening in federal waters since July 22.

"Each reopening is a reassuring sign that areas once impacted by oil can again support sustainable fishing activities," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "Tourists and consumers should know most Gulf waters are open for fishing and seafood from these waters is safe to eat."

No oil or sheen has been documented in the area since July 13. At its closest point, the area to be reopened is about 110 miles southeast of the Deepwater Horizon BP wellhead.

NOAA sampled this area between August 7 through September 18 for finfish, including tuna, swordfish, and mahi mahi. NOAA will continue to take samples for testing from the newly reopened area. The agency will also continue dockside sampling to test fish caught throughout the Gulf by commercial fishermen.

The total area reopened Friday is about three percent of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico and 29 percent of the current closed area, as last modified on October 5.

The remaining closed area now covers 16,481 square miles, or about seven percent of the federal waters in the Gulf.

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