The Louisiana Department of Health announced today that it will partially reopen oyster harvesting Area 17 south of 29 8" 19' latitude, 90 39 9" longitude to give harvesters as much time as possible to harvest their product before any potential impact from the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

Area 17, which is west of the Mississippi River in Terrebonne Parish, was originally closed on May 23, 2010. The area was closed as a precaution in anticipation of oil intrusion. There has been no intrusion as of yet, and LDH officials continue to monitor the area, as well as an entire 8-million acre area off the Louisiana shoreline.

LDH Secretary Alan Levine and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry on Friday signed the order to partially reopen Area 17 south of 29 8" 19' latitude, 90 39 9" longitude, which will take effect at sunrise June 12.

LDH officials have been working closely with local, state and federal agencies to monitor the oil plume that continues to grow off of the Louisiana coastline for its potential impacts on oyster harvesting areas.

In addition to regular testing schedules, registered sanitarians are collecting oyster meat samples from the closed beds, which then undergo enhanced testing at a private lab to monitor the presence of oil.

Portions of areas 2 and 3, as well as areas 8 through 15, 27 and 28 remain closed.

The public is encouraged to call a toll-free hotline, 1-800-256-2775, to report the presence of oil or an oil sheen.

For more information related to the oil spill, visit Connect with us on and on Twitter as @GOHSEP. View photos from the state's response efforts at