Bronson says Florida seafood is safe to eat

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson on Friday declared that Florida seafood is safe to eat amid misperceptions that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has tainted the state’s seafood catch.

“I am concerned about the misconceptions that are circulating about the safety and availability of Florida seafood. Because of these false impressions, our state’s commercial fishing industry has suffered a severe economic blow,” said Bronson.

“Florida seafood products are safe and plentiful. They have not been affected by the oil spill,” he explained. “More than 80 percent of the Gulf of Mexico is untouched by oil, and our commercial fishermen continue to harvest products from these clean waters.”

Bronson’s statement comes as the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and other organizations fight to keep the public informed about the oil spill’s effect on Gulf fisheries.

The area off-limits to commercial fishing now constitutes just over 48,000 square miles, or 20 percent of U.S. Gulf waters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Friday. The closed area stretches from southeastern Louisiana to roughly 150 miles west of Florida’s west coast.

“We are continually monitoring water samples off Florida’s coast,” said Bronson. “If and when Florida waters are impacted by the spill, we will take immediate action to close the waters to commercial seafood harvesting. We would never jeopardize consumer safety by harvesting and selling any product that was not safe and wholesome. Never.”

On Thursday, Bronson asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to open the summer oyster harvesting area in Apalachicola Bay 11 days early this year due to the oil spill. It usually opens for 92 days on 1 June.

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