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FDA Opens Gulf Waters To Fishing

Posted on August 3, 2010

Florida’s Gulf waters have been reopened to commercial fishing. The announcement was made in late July by federal officials opening more than 26,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola to commercial and recreational fishing.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg reassured the public that the seafood from the area is safe in an official statement on August 2.

“Through close coordination with our state and federal partners, we are confident all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that seafood harvested from the waters being opened today is safe and that Gulf seafood lovers everywhere can be confident eating and enjoying the fish that will be coming out of this area.”

Hamburg talks about the importance that commercial fishermen and seafood processors return to their livelihoods, but makes no mention of the chemical dispersant that was used in Gulf waters to break up the crude oil dumped by BP following an April 20 explosion on its Deepwater oil rig.

At the same time, Hamburg announced the opening of some Mississippi state waters to commercial fishing.
Captain Kenneth Daniels Jr. and his crew have been out of work for three months and heralded the reopening to fishing, he tells the Bradenton Herald. A wide range of people and businesses have felt oil spill economic loss.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Coast Guard both confirm there has not been a light oil sheen observed in the northeastern Gulf since mid-June.

Safe Seafood?
To determine whether the seafood is safe, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration took 52 samples of fish species from the Gulf from June 23 to July 13. After determining where the fish were caught, they went to a lab in Pascagoula where the fish underwent a taste and smell test as well as chemical analysis. The green light was issued after it was determined the food was safe for consumption. However, more than 57,000 square miles of federal waters will remain closed, which represents nearly a quarter of the Gulf’s economic zone.

We certainly hope the seafood is safe, but federal officials told first responders following 9/11 in 2001, that the air at Ground Zero was safe too. It turns out it wasn’t and many today have lung cancers as well as respiratory problems and sued over environmental health issues. Let’s hope our government learned from that error and has not put economic considerations above public health.