May 19 2010
NOAA extends fishing ban boundaries
NOAA yesterday extended the boundaries of the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico into the northern portion of the loop current.
The new boundaries mean that 45,728 square miles of Gulf of Mexico federal waters are closed to fishing. NOAA says that leaves 195,000 square miles still available .
NOAA says the extension of the banned area is "a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers."
According to NOAA, the latest analysis shows that the bulk of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill remains "dozens of miles" from the loop current. The new boundaries, it says, "address the possibility that a tendril of light oil has entered or will enter the loop current."
The newly closed area is more than 150 miles from the nearest port and primarily in deep water used by pelagic longline fisheries that target highly migratory species, such as tuna and swordfish. Coastal fisheries, such as grouper, snapper and shrimp, will not be affected by the expansion of the closed area.
The loop current is an area of warm water that comes up from the Caribbean, past the Yucatan Peninsula, and into the Gulf of Mexico. The current is also known as the Florida current as it flows through the Florida Strait and then into the Gulf Stream as it heads north to the east coast of the U.S. Both the location of the loop current and the location of the oil slick are dynamic. Both move around from day to day. Satellite imagery on May 17 indicated that the bulk of the oil is dozens of miles away from the loop current, but a tendril of light oil has been transported close to the loop.