Gulf fishing crisis deepens –

Gulf fishing crisis deepens Published:  02 June, 2010

THE fishing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill worsened last night as the American federal authorities extended the fishing no go zone for the third consecutive time.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  has increased  the northern boundary of the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico up to the Mississippi federal-state water line and portions of the Alabama federal-state water line.

The NOAA says closing fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers.

It now means over a quarter of all fishing areas are closed and there are indications that the crisis is forcing up seafood prices in many parts of the United States. Anger is now mounting against BP which is certain to face huge compensation cvlaims from fishermen and seafood processors.

The closed area now represents 61,854 square miles, which is slightly less than 26 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. This leaves more than 74 percent of Gulf federal waters available for fishing.

The authorities say extension of the federal fishing closed area due to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill coincides with the June 1st opening of the Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper season, and will affect some areas targeted by charter boat captains and private anglers.

However, NOAA’s Fisheries Service is increasing the level of data collection to more closely monitor the effects of the oil spill on Gulf recreational fishing. This will allow the agency to adjust the closure date for recreational fishing seasons as appropriate, including the red snapper season which is scheduled to close at 12:01 a.m. July 24.

Roy Crabtree, NOAA’s Fisheries Service southeast regional administrator said: “We are  communicating regularly with Gulf fishermen about real-time oil spill observations and projections, as well as collecting feedback on what they see while out fishing,” We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and we are prepared to extend fishing seasons if we see catches are down, and seafood is safe.”