A day after reopening 5,130 square miles of federal waters off the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle to commercial and recreational fishing, NOAA Fisheries reopened another 3,114-square-mile block in the north central Gulf at 5 p.m. Friday, according to a report issued by the The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The area reopened Thursday is north of the 29-degree, 30-minute latitude, about 45 miles south of Alabama's coastline.
NOAA Fisheries collected shrimp and finfish samples from the areas that had been closed because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Samples from the reopened areas passed sensory analysis and chemical analysis results were well below levels of concern.
Major Chris Blankenship, acting director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division, said all Alabama hunting and fishing licenses expired on August 31, and 2010-2011 licenses must be purchased before attempting to fish or hunt.