Commercial and recreational fishing may resume as close as 10 miles from the wellhead of the former Deepwater Horizon oil rig, federal officials said on Monday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reopened more than 8,000 square miles of water for such activities. About 1,041 square miles immediately surrounding the wellhead remain closed to fishing.
The area being reopened was sampled between August 31 and November 1 for finfish and shrimp including tuna, swordfish, escolar and royal red shrimp.
Sensory analyses found no detectable oil, dispersant odors or flavors while chemical analyses for oil related compounds and oil dispersants found them well below levels of concern, NOAA said.
In total, officials have already reopened more than 82,000 square miles of oil-impacted federal waters
The reopening also marks the first time scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have added a test to detect for toxic soap-like chemicals known as oil dispersants, which were mixed into water to reduce the impact of oil on the environment.
All the samples tested passed, said Jane Lubchenco, the NOAA administrator.
This is yet another indication that our Gulf seafood is safe for consumption, she said.