May 3, 2010

State & Federal Agencies Monitor Your Safety

NOAA is restricting fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay (map above). The closure is effective immediately.

• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), county governments, water management districts and several federal agencies continue to conduct pre-impact assessments, including sampling of water, fish, shellfish and habitats along the Florida coastline and into the Gulf of Mexico.
• FDACS Food Safety Division Director Dr. John Fruin is developing a plan to monitor seafood safety.
• FDACS Division of Aquaculture has started sampling oysters to establish baseline information.
• The federal and state governments have strong systems in place to test and monitor seafood safety and to prohibit harvesting from affected areas and keeping oiled products out of the marketplace. NOAA Fisheries is working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the States to ensure seafood safety, by assessing whether seafood is tainted or contaminated to levels that pose a risk to human health.

Impact on Florida’s Seafood Industry:
• Forecast models put first oil on Florida shores around Perdido Key, Escambia County—the most westerly part of Florida in the next few days.
• Over 66.2 million pounds of seafood at a dockside value of over $124.6 million were harvest on the west coast of Florida in 2008.
• In some areas, like Pensacola, consumers are flocking to their local markets to buy seafood because they think it will be unavailable for a long time to come. Most seafood prices are staying the same. Some industry members have seen a slight increase in shrimp and oyster prices.

Listed below are the species currently being harvested in the harvest areas. According to NOAA the closed area is 25 miles off Escambia County. Currently, all species harvested from the closure line to shore (grouper, snapper, golden tilefish, mullet, blue crab, oysters, flounder, sea trout, shrimp etc.) are safe. Escambia county landed 1.1 million pounds of seafood with a dockside value of $2.0 million dollars (2008-FWCC)

Miami and the Keys
• Amberjack
• Grouper
• Yellowtail snapper
• Red snapper
• Stone crab.
Apalachicola area
• Grouper
• Flounder
• Red snapper
• Golden tilefish
• Clams
East Coast
• White Shrimp
• Whiting
• Flounder
• Grouper
• Snapper
• Mahi Mahi
• King Mackerel
West Coast
• Grouper
• Snapper
• Yellow Fin Tuna
• Swordfish
• Golden Tilefish
• Pink Shrimp

• Shrimp is number one seafood preference for consumers. Major shrimp species in the Gulf of Mexico include white shrimp, pink shrimp and brown shrimp. These species are mainly located in coastal areas. During the spring, the young, or postlarvae, migrate from coastal areas. Impacts on these shrimp will increase as the oil slick approaches nearshore areas. Shrimp species will be impacted due to mortality of adults, as well as postlarvae. In particular, brown shrimp postlarvae will be migrating out of inshore waters from February to April, while white shrimp will begin migration in May and continue through November. The spill could have impacts not only on shrimp catches this year, but also next year if postlarvae mortality is high.

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