The Gulf seafood safety testing program involves NOAA, the FDA and the Gulf states. To prevent tainted seafood from reaching the marketplace, the first step was to close oiled or potentially oiled waters to fishing. Once the oil was gone from those waters, the seafood sampled there had to pass both sensory and chemical analysis before the area could be reopened to fishing. You can read a brief scientific explanation of how fish exposed to oil are able to clear it from their tissues, a news release that summarizes how seafood is tested, a fact sheet about seafood safety testing, or you can watch a seafood safety video. You can also read a summary of the protocol, or the full reopening protocol itself.
A chemical test to detect dispersant in fish tissues was developed by NOAA and FDA, and consistent with what is known about the physical and chemical properties of dispersant and the results of sensory analysis, none of the almost fish tested showed a dispersant residue at a level harmful to humans. Over 99% of the samples had no detectable residue at all. Here is news release that summarizes the findings, and here are the results themselves.
Read a summary of findings for each of the reopenings: April 19, February 2, November 15, October 22, October 15, October 5, October 1, September 21, September 3, September 2, August 27, August 10, July 22.
View all the information – the number, type, and location of fish sampled and the sensory and chemical test results – for the most recent reopening (under the heading “Federal Waters Re-Opening Decisions”) and for all previous reopenings.
All federal waters in the Gulf that were once closed to fishing due to the oil spill are open. View an archive of all the changes since the beginning of the spill, and a table showing how the size and percentage has changed over time.