BILOXI – As President Obama prepares to visit Mississippi next week, some areas of the Mississippi Sound are being closed to fishing because oil from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been detected there, state officials said Friday.
The Department of Marine Resources and Department of Environmental Quality said the closing affects state waters only and applies to all commercial and recreational fishing. All Mississippi waters remain open for recreational use.
The irregularly shaped area runs from the south shore of Horn Island east to the Alabama state line.
Waters between the shore and the islands off Biloxi and Gulfport are not included, but the closure area moves north to near the shore around Pascagoula Bay and then to the Alabama line.
Mississippi’s shoreline has been spared direct impact of the oil spewing from the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
However, oil has been found on some of Mississippi’s easternmost barrier islands and could approach again, forecasters say.
State environmental quality officials said tar balls were found Friday on Horn Island and Petit Bois Island and a streamer of orange oil mousse was seen southeast of Petit Bois.
Skimmers were reported working sheens in the Petit Bois area.
The BP-operated rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and sank two days later in 5,000 feet of water. Many of the 11 workers killed were from Mississippi. The rig was owned by Transocean Ltd.
Obama is scheduled to visit Gulfport on Monday as part of a two-day, three-state visit to the Gulf Coast to assess the impact of the spill.
During his fourth trip to the area since the BP oil spill, Obama also will stop in Theodore, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., before leaving the area Tuesday.
Unlike previous visits, Obama will skip Louisiana.
Also on the Coast will be Sen. Roger Wicker, who will meet Sunday in Pass Christian with a group of fishermen, seafood processors and elected officials.
The Associated Press