Gulf of Mexico shrimpers and fishermen, whose livelihoods have been imperiled by the BP oil spill, can go back to work as soon as tests show there is no risk of contamination, a top U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Our hope is to get them back fishing as soon as possible, but only when it is safe, Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told a White House press conference. The impact to fishermen is obviously quite considerable.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Matt Spetalnick)