NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service opened another 5,130 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico to fishing yesterday.

The area opened back up to both commercial and recreational fishing are federal waters off the coasts of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.   The area off the Florida panhandle that was previously open only for finfish is now open for all fishing.

BP_OilSpill_FisheryClosureMap_090210.jpgThe decision to open more federal waters to fishing came on the same day that another oil platform in the Gulf caught fire, forcing workers to evacuate into the sea below.  It was the first such incident since the April 20 Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 oil workers.

Thursday’s incident was far less serious as workers escaped any serious injury and the Coast Guard said there was no oil leak involved.

NOAA continues to keep 43,000 square miles of the Gulf closed to all types of fishing.  Almost in the center of that area—about the size of the State of Virginia—is the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon site. 

Boats may transit the closed waters as long as they are not fishing.

Areas re-opened have not seen oil since July 12 and the last light sheens were reported July 29.  Seafood tests in the newly opened areas have been negative for oil and dispersant odors and flavors and no problems with chemicals have been found.