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Feds close more Gulf waters to fishing due to oil spill

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- The federal government ordered another 1,200 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico closed to fishing Monday due to the ongoing oil spill off Louisiana, extending the restricted zone toward the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi.

The latest order from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration means about 26 percent of the Gulf is closed to fishing, up only slightly from 25 percent last week. But it comes on the eve of the opening of the recreational fishing season for red snapper, a strong draw for sport fishing in the region.

The closure extends from north of Louisiana's Chandeleur Islands, east along three-mile offshore border between federal waters and Alabama and Mississippi state waters to just west of Gulf Shores, Alabama. It follows NOAA forecasts that showed oil from the massive Deepwater Horizon spill spreading toward those states' coasts later this week.

"Closing fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers," NOAA said in a statement announcing the decision.

The move is likely to be another blow to an already beleaguered fishing industry, which brings in billions of dollars to the Gulf states. Early studies have estimated the economic damage from the spill could run as high as $1.6 billion.