Special Reports

Commerce sec'y: Gulf seafood safe to eat

PENSACOLA -- On Thursday at a news conference at the Pensacola Navy Air Station, Commerce secretary Gary Locke attempted to quell fears of contaminated seafood as well as reassure Gulf Coast residents that their economic concerns are being recognized.

A large swath of Gulf waters were closed on Sunday to fishing due to the oil slick. Locke called the area "minute" on Thursday compared to the vastness of the Gulf of Mexico and the said the 10-day fishing ban was to "send a signal to the American public" that seafood is still safe to eat.

"Whatever seafood is being harvested is in fact safe to consume whether it's on the stores, your supermarket shelves or the restaurants," Locke said. "Our utmost priority is protecting the health and safety of the American consuming public.

"There is no risk of eating any of the seafood being harvested from the Gulf in those areas that have remained open. The majority of the Gulf is still open for fishing."

On Monday, the Department of Commerce began dispatching "economic development teams" to the Gulf Coast region to begin "reaching out to local officials, state officials and businesses to begin the economic assessment of the financial impact of the spill," according to Locke. "We understand that livelihoods are on the line," he said.