The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration opened more than 8,000 square miles of previously closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico because the agency has not observed oil in the area.
The most significant opening is an area due south of Mississippi, which was closed June 21. Additionally, some smaller areas were opened off the Louisiana and central Florida coasts.
These areas were initially closed as a precaution because oil was projected to be within those areas within the next few days. However, the review of satellite imagery, radar and aerial data indicated that oil had not moved into these areas.
The federal closed area does not apply to any state waters. NOAA says closing fishing in this area is a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers.
The closed area now represents 78,597 square miles, which is approximately 32.5 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters.