As waters reopen for fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, federal public health officials are maintaining confidence in the safety of seafood harvested in the region.
Just days after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reopened one-third of all previously closed federal waters, the state of Louisiana reopened a major chunk of closed local waters late last week for finfish and shrimp fishing.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg visited Louisiana Friday for the announcement.
“Through close coordination with our state and federal partners, we are confident all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that seafood harvested from the waters being opened today is safe and that Gulf seafood lovers everywhere can be confident eating and enjoying the fish and shrimp that will be coming out of this area,” said Hamburg.
“The fishermen and processors in the Gulf want to know that all of the proper protocols and testing methods were used to ensure that the seafood is safe,” added Hamburg. “FDA is supporting Louisiana in this reopening as it is clear that all the proper protocol and methods were indeed followed.”
With testing still underway, the FDA has not yet made a determination on crab safety in the newly reopened waters.
Last week, as NOAA reopened one-third of federal waters for fishing, after the section had been oil-free for thirty days and seafood tested negative for contamination, federal officials also emphasized the safety protocols in place.
“Following the best science for this re-opening provides important
assurance to the American people that the seafood they buy is safe and
protects the Gulf seafood brand and the many people who depend on it for
their livelihoods,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and
NOAA administrator, also weighed in on the reopening. “NOAA is working to protect public safety
while minimizing harm to the fishing industry,” said Lubchenco. “We are confident that
seafood caught in this area is, and will continue to be, free from
In recent weeks, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and First Lady Michelle Obama have all made assuring statements on Gulf seafood safety.