Gulf of Mexico fisheries disaster declared


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
May 24, 2010

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Monday declared a fishery disaster in the Gulf of Mexico due to the ongoing oil leak.

The disaster area includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Locke made the determination in response to requests from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour based on the loss of access to many fisheries and the environmental damage caused by the oil.

“We are taking this action today because of the potentially significant economic hardship this spill may cause fishermen and the businesses and communities that depend on those fisheries. The disaster determination will help ensure that the federal government is in a position to mobilize the full range of assistance that fishermen and fishing communities may need.” said Locke.

“We stand with America’s fishermen, their families and businesses in impacted coastal communities during this challenging time,” he added. “Commercial and recreational fishing provides vital jobs to the region and is essential to the Gulf Coast’s unique culture and heritage.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has requested USD 15 million (EUR 12.3 million) of supplemental funding, as well as USD 5 million (EUR 4.1 million) of economic development assistance through the Economic Development Administration.

In addition, the Obama administration is requesting unemployment coverage, and the Small Business Administration is offering economic injury disaster loans. However, BP and other responsible parties are expected to pay for the restoration of Gulf fisheries.

The area closed to fishing constitutes just over 48,000 square miles, or 20 percent of U.S. Gulf waters, and extends from southeastern Louisiana to roughly 150 miles west of Florida’s west coast.

State officials, including Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson, continue to fight public misperceptions that Gulf seafood is unavailable and unsafe.

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