PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - NOAA has extended the fishing ban in federal waters to include an area south of Panama City Beach. It is not the news the fishing and seafood industry needed to hear. Despite a public perception the oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill has blanketed the entire coast of Florida the fact is so far the majority of the coastline and state waters have been spared.
The fishing restriction covers over 80,000 square miles which accounts for 33 percent of the federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
NOAA says the intention of the closure is too keep consumers from eating seafood from potentially contaminated areas. The boundary moves from the Florida panhandle section of the federal-state waterline.
Even though the fishing ban has nothing to do with state waters at this time, local fisherman finding it challenging to overcome the bad PR Florida is getting. In an attempt to keep some of the tourist industry going the governor's office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will open waters along the Gulf Coast from the Pasco-Hernando County line northward for early scallop season June 19 or two weeks earlier than the normal July 1 harvest.
NOAA is working with the FDA to implement a broad-scaled seafood sampling plan which would compare seafood taken from inside and outside of the zone. When formulated they will include sampling dockside and marketplace too.
Fisherman with claims to file with BP should call 1-800-440-0858.