Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reopened 4,281
square miles of the Gulf of Mexico after a reopening protocol agreed
to by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), the Gulf states, and the NOAA.
waters, which are off western Louisiana, are ready for commercial
and recreational fishing. NOAA experts recently caught fish in the
area and they showed no signs of contamination.
food safety experts, members of the fishing industry and local, state
federal officials, are working together every day to ensure that
the Gulf is safe to eat," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D.,
under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA
administrator. "We will remain vigilant and continue to monitor
and test seafood in reopened waters.
July 26 to July 29, NOAA sampled shrimp
and finfish like snapper and mackerel. Under the procedures
and methodology of the reopening protocol, chemical analyses of 125
specimens and sensory analyses of 41 samples were composited into 14
samples, and the sensory analysis showed no oil or dispersant flavors
or odors. As far as the chemical analysis goes, results were "well
below the levels of concern."
NOAA data from July 29 showed a "light sheen" of oil in the
area, yet there has been none detected ever since. Also, trajectory
models reveal that this particular area has a low risk of being
exposed to oil in the future.
of our strict adherence to the reopening protocol agreed to by the
states and the federal government, we have confidence that seafood
harvested from this area is free from harmful oil residues and can be
enjoyed by consumers around the nation," said Margaret Hamburg,
MD, Commissioner of the FDA.
reopened waters are approximately 185 miles west of the BP wellhead
that ruptured on April 20, causing the worst
oil spill in U.S. history. It is an area known for its fishing,
especially for shrimp, reef fish and menhaden. The reopening of these
waters should be a relief for commercial fisherman, and NOAA plan to
test all fish captured through dockside sampling measures.