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Tar mats prompt La. to close small area off island

Arrow locates Grand Terre Island (Google Maps) Arrow locates Grand Terre Island (Google Maps)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has closed an area off East Grand Terre Island to all but recreational rod and reel fishing because tar mats were removed from the area.

BP PLC says the closing appears groundless and began well after the mats were found and removed.

Department Secretary Robert Barham said Tuesday that the closure covers water within a half-mile of the island's southern shore. All commercial fishing is forbidden there. So are most kinds of recreational fishing. Charter tours using rod and reel are permitted.

BP said in a news release that all fish tested from Gulf Coast states since 2010 have been within federal health limits. It says the tar mats were found May 6 and removed by June 18 - 10 days before the closure.

Barham, in an emailed response later Tuesday, said the department stands by its management decisions.

"We will not engage in a back and forth debate with BP about the validity of those decisions through the press," Barham said. "BP should focus on removing the tremendous amount of remaining Deepwater Horizon oil in and along our shorelines rather than on our management decisions."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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