The Louisiana departments of Health and Hospitals (DHH), and Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced today the closure of recreational and commercial fishing activities, and oyster harvesting near Marsh Island and in harvesting bed Area 28 due to confirmed reports of oil associated with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
LDWF Secretary Robert Barham announced the following closure to recreational and commercial fishing activities effective sunset today, May 18, 2010, due to confirmed reports of oil. LDWF staff documented oil on the Marsh Island beach, east of Southwest Pass.
Territorial Sea Closure
All state outside waters extending seaward of the inside/outside shrimp line from South Point of Marsh Island at 91 degrees 45 minutes 48 seconds west longitude westward to the eastern shore of Freshwater Bayou at 92 degrees 18 minutes 27 seconds west longitude.
All other closures remain in place. For a map detailing these closures, click here.
Oyster Harvesting Closure
LDH Secretary Alan Levine and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry signed the closure order for Area 28, which will take effect at sunset today, Tuesday, May 18. Area 28, which is south of Vermillion Bay, is west of the Mississippi River in Iberia Parish.
Areas 2 through 4, 8, 14, 15 and 17 also are closed. Areas 5, 6, 7, 9 and 13 were recently reopened.
Closures will remain in effect until officials have determined that environmental conditions are within the requirements specified by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. For a map detailing these closures, click here.
LDWF and LDH continue to work together to assess closures in order to maintain the safety of Louisiana seafood.
LDH officials have also been working closely with other 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. Meanwhile, employees with LDH's Office of Public Health Molluscan Shellfish Program have continued regular testing of 8 million acres of coastal waters along the Louisiana shoreline.
In addition, LDH scientists and engineers are conducting enhanced testing of oyster meat taken from the closed beds to monitor the presence of oil, called hydrocarbon testing. Additional testing is also being conducted in unaffected oyster beds. These tests will create a baseline, which will be used to ensure the safety of oysters once the incident clears in order to reopen beds. Oysters being harvested in open areas are considered safe.
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 on Louisiana's response to the oil spill, visit http://www.emergency.louisiana.gov. Connect with us on www.facebook.com/GOHSEP and on Twitter @GOHSEP. View photos in from the state's response efforts at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lagohsep