Oil forces partial fishing closure in Escambia County
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Media contact: Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC), in coordination with Florida's Department of
Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services and the Department of Health, issued an executive
order to temporarily close a portion of coastal state waters
offshore of Escambia County to the harvest of saltwater fish, crabs
and shrimp. The FWC is taking precautionary actions regarding
harvest and consumption of these marine species, which may be
affected by oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of
The closure includes state waters from the beaches
out 9 nautical miles into the Gulf from the Alabama line east to
the Pensacola Beach water tower. Interior bays and estuaries
remain open to fishing. This area covers approximately 23
miles of Florida's coastline in Escambia County, where oil from the
Deepwater Horizon spill is now present (see map).
Recreational catch-and-release fishing is still
allowed as long as saltwater fish are not harvested or possessed in
the closed area.
Oysters, clams and mussels are not included in the
closure, because they are not expected to be affected by oil in the
area. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services carefully monitors populations of these shellfish.
This order, which includes specific closure
coordinates, can be viewed online at MyFWC.com/OilSpill and takes
effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 14, and will remain in effect
until repealed, extended or modified by a subsequent order.
The order will be enforced by several state and federal agencies,
and the affected area will remain closed until it is free of
visible oil and testing confirms that the water and the marine life
in it are once again safe.
Under the order, fishermen can transit through the
closed area with saltwater fish, crabs or shrimp that were legally
harvested outside the closed area. Fishermen doing this are
required to go as directly as possible from where these species
were legally harvested to where the vessel is regularly docked,
moored or stored, or to the licensed wholesale dealer where the
catch is to be sold.
"The oil spill in the Gulf is still far from most
of Florida's vast coastlines, and while the FWC continues to
carefully track oil spill developments and prepare for possible
impacts, Florida's abundant saltwater fisheries remain in good
health and the fish you buy in a commercial outlet or restaurant
are safe and wholesome to eat," said FWC Chairman Rodney
Barreto. "The FWC encourages residents and visitors to go
fishing in Florida and to enjoy fresh Florida seafood."
More information on FWC's response to the BP oil
spill and closed fishing areas in federal waters offshore of
Florida is available online at MyFWC.com/OilSpill.