Main | Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oil Spill Reaches Key West, Feds Double Banned Fishing Area

Federal officials have doubled the area of the Gulf that is banned to fishing fleets as the oil spill appears to have reached Key West. Yesterday the Florida Park Service reported that about 20 "tar balls" of crude oil have washed ashore.
The new restrictions extend from the coastal area off south-central Louisiana to about 200 miles off the tip of Florida's Gulf Coast, said Kim Amendola, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in St. Petersburg, Fla. That puts 45,728 square miles of federal gulf fishing grounds, or 19 percent, off limits, up from 24,241 square miles, she said. As of Monday, "the main bulk of oil is dozens of miles away from the current," said NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco. But her agency is concerned that light oil sheen could get caught in the loop that flows eastward through the gulf, then up Florida's Atlantic coast. "NOAA is acting with an abundance of caution," she said, because some of the spill could enter the main loop current.
UPDATE: Several Key West residents have written to point out that the dark line on the beach in the photo above is just sea grass left by the tide. The photo that accompanied the above-linked news story was meant to show workers looking for tar balls that have washed ashore, not to depict actual oil deposits on the sand. I'm told that the waters around Key West remain, for the time being, as pristine as ever. Please don't let this post dissuade you from your Key West vacation. Hit this link for a recounting of my fantastic trip there last October.

(Via - Gothamist)

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