The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is moving forward with sampling of crab, shrimp and finfish in closed commercial fishing areas west of the Mississippi Delta, which is the first step in reopening these state waters to commercial fishing.
This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concurred with Louisiana's request to begin the reopening process in Terrebonne and Timbalier Bays, which were originally closed to commercial fishing earlier this summer after confirmed reports of oil suspected to be from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This marks the first federal testing to take place on seafood in these waters since the state issued the emergency closures. Once samples from these areas are determined to be safe of all hydrocarbons and dispersant substance, LDWF Secretary Robert Barham intends to order immediate openings to commercial fishing in these areas, which will leave only five percent of commercial fishing areas closed. Currently, LDWF fisheries biologists are collecting thousands of specimens of crab, shrimp and finfish in Terrebonne and Timbalier bays to submit to the FDA and NOAA for sensory testing and chemical analysis. Once these samples are processed, the FDA will render its decision on the reopening.
LDWF guidelines for re-opening commercial fishing areas are as follows:
- Once visible signs of oil are no longer apparent in waters previously closed by LDWF to commercial fishing, LDWF will submit an 'intent to reopen' letter to NOAA and the FDA;
- LDWF biologists then conduct thorough sampling of finfish, crabs and shrimp in the proposed reopening area;
- Following the collection of the samples, biologists will immediately transfer specimens to be tested by the FDA and NOAA for signs of chemical contamination;
Once the analysis is complete FDA and NOAA will render an opinion regarding the proposed reopening. The entire process is expected to be completed in 14 days.
For more information related to the oil spill, visit http://www.emergency.louisiana.gov . Connect with us on www.facebook.com/GOHSEP  and on Twitter as @GOHSEP. View photos from the state's response efforts at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lagohsep 
For more information, contact Ashley Wethey at 225-765-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org