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Orange County Coast Fishing Ban Lifted After Major Oil Spill

Two men in a boat attempt to contain oil from the Orange County oil spill.
Workers attempt to contain oil that seeped into Talbert Marsh after a 126,000-gallon oil spill from an offshore oil platform on October 3, 2021 in Huntington Beach.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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A fishing ban in Orange County since October’s oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach was lifted Tuesday.

For about two months, the ban prohibited the taking of fish and shellfish from Huntington Beach to Dana Point, affecting about 45 miles of shoreline and 650 square miles of marine waters.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment sampled seafood in the area in order to find chemicals found in oil, known as polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Some sea creatures can retain those chemicals, increasing the risk for cancer after being eaten by humans.

Eric Laughlin, spokesperson for California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said stationary animals such as mollusks, oysters, clams and mussels were the ones they were more concerned with since they take longer to show chemical concentrations that are dangerous.

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“Some of the species retain the chemicals found in oil longer than others,” Laughlin said. “Typically fish that swim are able to remove the harmful chemicals from their system quicker.”

After three weeks of sampling, authorities have determined that the seafood is safe to eat again and no longer a threat to public health.

“None of the samples returned anything that would signal a danger to human consumption,” Laughlin said.

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