Fishing Grounds Reopen After Refugio Oil Spill

To the surprise of pretty much everybody paying attention to the 138-square-mile closure of all fishing grounds in and around the May 19 Refugio Oil Spill site, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reopened the closed region on Monday afternoon.

As of late last week, there was no indication that fishermen would be permitted access to the area any time soon. “Turnaround was incredibly quick and everybody was stoked that all those fish came in clean,” said commercial fisherman Michael Harrington, referring to the range of invertebrates and finfish that were collected and tested for contamination.

Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Alexia Retallack said that the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment “worked with the testing labs to expedite the process.” The emergency closure covered an area from Coal Oil Point to Hollister ranch, six miles out to sea.

Commercial and recreational fishing is still restricted within the Naples and Campus Point marine conservation areas, both of which were established in 2012. Also, the annual mussel quarantine — to protect the public against paralytic shellfish poisoning — is currently in effect and typically runs until the end of October.

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