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Louisiana reopens some areas to commercial crabbing

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Order comes after FDA tests showed crab samples are safe for consumption
  • Large areas remain closed to commercial fishing
  • State authorities said efforts to monitor certain shrimp nets showed no indication of oil

(CNN) -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries ordered some areas near the Mississippi River that had been closed because of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to reopen to commercial crabbing on Friday.

The order, made in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, came after tests showed crab from the previously closed areas was safe for consumption.

The move reopens commercial crabbing in areas west of Mississippi River's Southwest Pass.

Large swaths of Louisiana waters remain closed to commercial fishing, which includes crabbing.

Also Friday, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said that efforts to monitor nets on shrimp trawling vessels in certain parts of the state showed no indication of oil.

Officials monitored vessels this week in the Chandeleur Sound, Lake Pontchartrain and the Rigolets, located in the southeast part of the state.

"There was no indication of oil in any of the nets or on the shrimp catch," said Jeff Dauzat from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, according to a release from St. Bernard Parish's public information officer. "We'll be going out again tomorrow and will be assessing lower Breton Sound, Lake Borgne, Lake Catherine and Mississippi Sound."

Still, local residents, some fisherman and environmentalists are worried about the lasting impact of the spill and are urging more tests.

The oil disaster began on April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, and later sank. The government estimates some 4.9 million barrels of oil subsequently gushed into the Gulf, 800,000 of which was captured by surface ships.

The well was capped July 15, stopping the flow of oil, and a "static kill" operation two weeks ago further plugged it with cement and mud from above.