All DH oil spill waters now open

20 Apr 2011
All waters previously closed to fishing following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are now open. Credit: US Coastguard

All waters previously closed to fishing following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are now open. Credit: US Coastguard

NOAA has now reopened 1,041 square miles of Gulf waters immediately surrounding the Deepwater Horizon wellhead, just east of Louisiana.

This is the twelfth and final reopening in federal waters since 22 July, and opens all of the areas in Federal waters formerly closed to fishing due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This reopening was announced after consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and under a reopening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

“I am pleased to announce that all federal waters affected by the spill are now open to all fishing,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. “I thank fishermen and the public for their patience and FDA for its support and cooperation throughout this process while we worked diligently to ensure the integrity of Gulf seafood.”

NOAA sampled this area between 11 November and 14 November 2010, 12 March and 16 March 2011, and 28 March and 1 April 2011, for potentially affected finfish, including tuna, swordfish, and escolar. Sensory analyses of 86 finfish samples and chemical analyses of 112 finfish samples in eight composites followed the methodology and procedures in the reopening protocol, with sensory analysis finding no detectable oil or dispersant odours or flavours, and results of chemical analysis for oil-related compounds and dispersants well below the levels of concern.

As announced on October 29, NOAA and FDA developed and implemented a chemical test to detect the presence of dispersants in fish, oysters, crabs and shrimp. The level of concern for dispersants is 100 parts per million for finfish and 500 parts per million for shrimp. The test can reliably detect Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS) at levels of 2000 times below the lowest level of concern. The results of chemical testing showed that 99% of samples contained no detectable dispersant residues, and the few samples that did contain dispersant residues showed levels more than 1000 times lower than FDA levels of concern.

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