The gulf oil spill is proving to be not just an ecological disaster, but an economic one, too.
On Sunday the federal government closed commercial and recreational fishing from Louisiana to parts of the Florida Panhandle, and oil continues to gush unabated from the Deepwater Horizon rig.
The fishing ban extends between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay.
That’s a significant blow to the economy of the region. The Gulf Coast is home to the second largest seafood industry in the country after Alaska.
The annual commercial seafood harvest in the gulf adds up to $661 million, and recreational fishing contributes $757 million and nearly 8,000 jobs, according to the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. The group estimates that $1.6 billion in annual economic activity is tied to the wetlands directly exposed to the spill.
So now fishermen are doing the only thing they can — gritting their teeth and helping to clean up the oil that is putting their livelihoods at risk.