U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke declared a disaster Monday for the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico due to the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill upon fisheries in the region.
The decision comes at the request of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour "based on the loss of access to many commercial fisheries and the existing and anticipated environmental damage from this unprecedented event," according to Locke in a statement.
The $2.4 billion Gulf fishing industry has seen nearly 20 percent of its recreational and commercial fisheries closed near the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama by order of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The move permits the federal government to allocate more resources to the region.
"We stand with America's fishermen, their families and businesses in impacted coastal communities during this challenging time," the secretary said in his statement. "Commercial and recreational fishing provides vital jobs to the region and is essential to the Gulf Coast's unique culture and heritage."
So far, the White House has asked for $20 million to give to impacted communities, but has reiterated in it's own recent statement that British Petroleum (BP) the owner of the oil rig "and any other responsible parties" will ultimately have to make up for any and all economic losses.