As a precaution authorities closed federal fishing waters from the Mississippi River east to the panhandle of Florida for a ten day period, but fishing continues on the west side of the Mississippi River. The closure will be in effect for 10 days, from May 7, 2010, through 12:01 a.m., local time, May 17, 2010, unless conditions allow NOAA Fisheries Service to terminate it sooner. According to the FDA, fish and shellfish harvested from areas unaffected by the closures are considered safe to eat.
“Areas outside the closed area account for more than 2/3 of the Gulf Shrimp production. Seventy percent of the Gulf harvest remains untouched by the oil spill,” said David Veal, Executive Director of the American Shrimp Processors Association. “Hopefully the only impact on the industry will be a slight delay in the opening of the brown shrimp season.” The Gulf shrimp industry produces approximately 180 million of the 1.2 billion pounds of shrimp consumed in the United States.
According to government sources, the FDA, NOAA, EPA, state authorities in the regions affected by the recent oil spill and other authorities are monitoring the situation.
The FDA states that "Although crude oil has the potential to taint seafood with flavors and odors caused by exposure to hydrocarbon chemicals, the public should not be concerned about the safety of seafood in stores at this time. There is no reason to believe that any contaminated product has made its way to the market."
Federal and state officials have announced monitoring efforts for the waters from which Gulf coast seafood is harvested. NOAA has the authority to close Federal waters to commercial fishing and states have the authority to close waters within the state 3-mile limit. If adulterated seafood is found on the market, both the FDA and the states have the authority to seize such product and remove it from the food supply.