Release Date: 05/11/2010

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents are patrolling the fishing closure zones in the oil spill area daily by water and air to ensure that all seafood brought to market is safe to consume.

To guard against the possibility of oil tainted seafood being brought to shore, LDWF and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) has issued recreational and commercial fishing closures in areas of the gulf where oil is believed to have spread.

"We are trying to keep as many areas open to fishing as possible, but as the oil spreads further towards the coast we have no choice but to issue a fishing closure for those areas," said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  "We want the consumers of Louisiana seafood to be confident that the seafood they consume is safe and delicious as always."

While LDWF continues to work closely with the Department of Health and Hospitals to execute closures, it is important to note that LDWF maintains the authority to close any and all areas that are deemed necessary by the secretary of the department.  LDWF Enforcement Agents have the authority to enforce closures in state waters regardless of where the directive comes from.

The Enforcement Division has deployed forward command centers to Hopedale, Venice and Grand Isle to patrol the fishing closure areas.  From these locations, agents launch boats for daily missions specific to the closed fishing zones.  The Enforcement Division also flies over the oil spill area to monitor and report any signs of fishing activity in these closed areas.

If an agent discovers fishing activity in the closed area, they will inspect the catch and return all fish to the water.  If fishermen are found to be in obvious violation of the current fishing closure areas, agents will issue a citation to all parties involved.

LDWF will also be inspecting trip tickets, which are used by the department to track seafood sales and where the seafood was caught.  Every wholesale/retail seafood, fresh product and crab shredder license holder must fill out trip tickets along with a monthly report to LDWF.

"The vast majority of people are complying and respectful of the fishing closure zones and understand why they have been put in place," said Colonel Winton Vidrine, head of LDWF's Law Enforcement Division.  "However, agents will continue to strictly enforce the closed areas to ensure that every fish caught in the these areas are returned to the water."

To report fishing activity in the no fishing zones, please call 1-800-442-2511 or 225-765-2441.

For more information related to the oil spill, visit www.emergency.louisiana.gov.  Connect with us on www.facebook.com/GOHSEP and on Twitter @GOHSEP.  View photos from the state's response efforts at www.flickr.com/photos/lagohsep.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.