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Gulf of Mexico fishing closure extended

(May 19, 2010)—The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday nearly tripled the size of the area in the Gulf of Mexico close to commercial fishing, as the oil slick gradually migrates eastward toward Florida’s west coast.

The prohibited area now represents 45,728 square miles, or 19 percent of U.S. Gulf waters, up from 4.5 percent two weeks ago, when NOAA extended the ban through 17 May.

NOAA also advised fishermen not to fish in areas where oil is present, even if the area is open to fishing.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDW&F) on Sunday reopened the waters surrounding Terrebonne Parish to commercial fishing. The agency closed the area on Saturday after a Dularge, La., fishermen found oil on his catch and reopened it after discovering that the oil did not originate from the Deepwater Horizon leak.

The LDW&F is now investigating how the oil ended up on the shrimp. In an interview with The Courier of Houma, La., the fisherman, Lyle DeHart, acknowledged the investigation but maintained his honesty, repeating that he found the oil on his catch.

Through Wednesday, the LDW&F kept parts of Chandeleur and Breton sounds, as well as the waters surrounding lower Plaquemines Parish, closed to commercial fishing.

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