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News Link • Oil Spill - Gulf of Mexico

Louisiana reopens Gulf waters to sport fishing

• Mike Brunker via msnbc.com
Tossing a life preserver to its ailing tourism industry, the state of Louisiana has reopened most of its state waters in the Gulf of Mexico to recreational fishing.

The state’s seven-member Wildlife and Fisheries Commission announced Wednesday that approximately 86 percent of recreational fishing in state waters extending 3 miles off the coast would be reopened immediately to recreational fishing, including shrimping and crabbing. Excluded are “heavily oiled areas, areas associated with boom and areas of active cleanup,” it said.

The areas remain closed to commercial fishing, though charter boats, bait fishermen and “dealers who harvest for and sell to recreational fishermen exclusively” can resume operations.

The move makes Louisiana the first state hard hit by BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill to lift strict restrictions on recreational fishing. Mississippi’s coastal waters in the Mississippi Sound remain closed to both commercial and recreational fishing, while state waters along Alabama and a 23-mile stretch of northeast Florida are open only for “catch and release” recreational fishing. (Texas, which has so far largely been spared by the oil, has placed no restrictions on commercial or recreational fishing.)

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