SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - The state Department of Fish and Wildlife allowed fishing to resume on Monday across 138 square miles of water off the Santa Barbara coast that was closed following last month’s huge oil spill.
Fish and Wildlife officials said decided to reopen the area following word from scientists that consuming fish caught in those waters poses no threat to human health. They said their scientists worked with their counterparts from the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to test a broad range of finfish, shellfish and other marine life to evaluate their exposure to oil chemicals.
The agency said recreational and commercial fishermen in the Santa Barbara area requested a broad sampling of seafood and faster turn-around for test results.
“Getting sustainable Santa Barbara seafood back in the market was important,” said Thomas M. Cullen, administrator for the state Office of Spill Prevention and Response.
The May 19 spill occurred after an onshore pipeline operated by Texas-based Plains All American ruptured. It leaked up to 101,000 gallons of crude, and an estimated 21,000 gallons reached the water.
Popular campgrounds were closed, nearby commercial fishing was prohibited and nearly 300 marine mammals and birds have been found dead after the spill. A beach south of the spill — El Capitan State Beach — reopened to the public on Friday.
Cleanup costs have reached $92 million.
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