Potential Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Commercial Fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico

A. Scrub-McCrea, D. Zeller, U. R. Sumaila, W. Swartz, K. Kleisner, R. Watson, D. Pauly, (2011). Fisheries 36, 332-336.

Given the economic and social importance of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico large marine ecosystem (LME), it is imperative to quantify the potential impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. To provide a preliminary perspective of the consequences of this disaster, spatial databases of annual reported commercial catch and landed value prior to the spill were investigated relative to the location of the fisheries closures during July 2010. Recent trends illustrated by this study suggest that more than 20% of the average annual U.S. commercial catch in the Gulf has been affected by postspill fisheries closures, indicating a potential minimum loss in annual landed value of US$247 million. Lucrative shrimp, blue crab, menhaden, and oyster fisheries may be at greatest risk of economic losses. Overall, it is evident that the oil spill has impacted a highly productive area of crucial economic significance within the Gulf of Mexico LME. This study draws attention to the need for ongoing and thorough investigations into the economic impacts of the oil spill on Gulf fisheries.