WASHINGTON — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has reopened 8,403 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico to commercial and recreational fishing.
The area, which extends from the Louisiana state water line to due south of the Alabama/Florida state line, represents 89% of the waters that were still off-limits for fishing, as of late October.
Almost the entire Gulf, with the exception of 1,000 square miles immediately surrounding the wellhead of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, has now been reopened.
Officials said that chemical and sensory tests have found no detectable oil or dispersant odors or flavors, and that chemical analysis has found that the presence of oil-related compounds is well below the level of concern.
“This is the first reopening where we have added a supplemental test to detect dispersants in seafood, and all the samples passed,” Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, said in a release. “This is yet another indication that our Gulf seafood is safe for consumption.”