BP Oil Spill May Affect Gulf Coast's Fishery Plan

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Federal agencies have requested further comments on the Gulf Coast's Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in light of the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill that occurred when one of the company's deep-water oil rigs malfunctioned.
     The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, under the direction of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, previously published a notice of intent for the Gulf Coast's FMP for regulating offshore marine aquaculture.
     Farming shellfish and other products is a way to meet the increasing demand for seafood. According to the Department of Commerce, 84 percent of seafood in the U.S. is imported, creating a $9 billion trade deficit.
     Notice of availability of a final programmatic environmental impact statement along with the FMP was issued in June 2009, with the FMP taking effect in September 2009.
     The April 2010 underwater explosion of the BP oilrig dumped 4.9 million bbl of oil into the Gulf, and 1.84 million gallons of Corexit 9500A dispersant were applied during constraining efforts. The council has now decided to consider new information in light of the accident.
     "This information is needed in order to consider potential changes to the environment linked to the Deep Water Horizon blowout and determine if and how such changes may affect the actions and alternatives analyzed in the FMP," the Department of Commerce said.