Florida — The sign outside the Pensacola Beach marina says “We’re Still Fishing,” but that’s not really true.
The federal government announced Tuesday it was nearly tripling the size of an area in the Gulf of Mexico that’s closed to fishing because of a massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it had closed nearly 46,000 square miles, or about 19 percent of federal waters.
That’s up from the 7 percent of the Gulf that’s been closed to fishing boats since shortly after an offshore oil rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. Rig operator BP PLC estimates that the blown-out well has leaked more than 5 million gallons.
The spill has scared off charter fishing customers at the marina here, even though the water they’d normally trawl is still open. The 30 boats were almost all tied to their slips Tuesday and Jerry Andrews, the captain of the Entertainer, had the dock to himself.
“Usually you’d see 15 or 20 people walking up and down out here asking about the fishing. Three-fourths of these slips would be empty,” said Andrews, a Pensacola native who has been fishing here for 34 years.