Waters off Pensacola closed to fishing because of oil

Twenty-three miles of Escambia County’s coastline was closed to fishing Monday because of oil from the BP oil spill. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission closed the state waters in the area extending nine nautical miles from the shore beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday. The closed area extends from the Alabama state line to the water tower at Pensacola Beach.

The closure applies to shrimp, crabs and fish caught both recreationally and commercially. Recreational catch-and-release fishing still is allowed in the area as long as saltwater fish are not harvested or possessed in the closed area. Oysters, clams and mussels are not included because they are not expected to be affected by oil in the area. Interior bays and estuaries remain open to fishing.

Also Monday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said 25 oil skimmer boats are operating nearshore along the coast and five are operating offshore. President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit Pensacola Monday as he monitors the federal response to the oil spill.

As of noon Monday, a light sheen of oil, weathered oil and tar balls were within five miles of Pensacola Pass, according to DEP. Tar balls and tar patties were widely scattered areas across Northwest Florida on Sunday.

(Story provided by The Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting brucebritchie@gmail.com.)