FL Concerned about Economic Impact on Tourism & Seafood Industry

Randall Weiseman Ag "Outdoors", Energy, Florida, General

— Florida reminds residents and visitors that Florida’s coasts are clean and seafood is safe —

TALLAHASSEE — State agency leaders are concerned that people across the United States falsely believe the state has been impacted by oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Florida’s beaches and fishing grounds remain open to residents and visitors to enjoy. Currently, there are no impacts to Florida’s more than 1,260 miles of coastline and 825 miles of sandy beaches. Winds and currents continue to keep the oil plume away from the Florida coast.

State officials want people to know that Florida’s shores are clear and open for business. Florida’s emergency response agencies are diligently working with BP as well as federal and local government officials to protect our state for any potential impacts the Deepwater Horizon incident may cause our state.

On May 7, 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration modified and expanded the boundaries of the closed fishing area in federal waters to better reflect the current location of the BP oil spill, and extended the fishing restriction until May 17, 2010. The closure affects commercial and recreational fishing in the oil-affected area of the Gulf of Mexico, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay. State officials are concerned that the closure has given potential visitors the impression that all gulf waters are impacted.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services officials remind Floridians that all species harvested from the closure line to shore, including grouper, snapper, golden tilefish, mullet, blue crab, oysters, clams, flounder, sea trout, shrimp are safe. Stone crab season is in effect until May 15 and is also not impacted by the ban.

State agencies including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Department of Health continue to collect and test water samples and shellfish to establish baseline information and to ensure there are no problems in area waters. Officials with these agencies continue to say they have no intention of halting commercial and recreational fishing in Florida until there is evidence that the action is necessary.

State officials are assuring residents and visitors they are closely monitoring the situation and if there is any change in the status of fishing in Florida, or if there are any environmental impacts the information will be immediately released.

To view more information about Florida’s response to the Deepwater Horizon incident, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon or follow http://www.Twitter.com/FLDEPalert