Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hotline Provides Information About Seafood Availability

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 9, 2010


HOTLINE PROVIDES CONSUMERS WITH LATEST INFORMATION ABOUT FLORIDA SEAFOOD
AVAILABILITY

TALLAHASSEE -- Seafood lovers who are confused about the availability of
Florida seafood products due to the Gulf oil spill can now get daily
updates about the ongoing commercial harvest. The Florida Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services has implemented a new toll-free hotline
at 1-800-357-4273 to provide consumers with current information about the
status of Florida's open and closed fishing harvest areas, the
availability of seafood varieties, and general pricing information.

"Because of the extensive news media coverage of the Gulf situation, many
consumers are confused about whether Florida seafood is being harvested
and if it is available in stores and restaurants," Florida Agriculture
Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said. "We want consumers to know that
Florida's commercial fishermen continue to harvest wholesome seafood
products from the waters that are unaffected by the oil spill. Florida
seafood is safe and plentiful."

Bronson said the telephone hotline will be updated daily with information
about the Gulf situation. He also reminded consumers that -- in addition
to the Gulf waters off Florida's west coast -- Florida's fishermen also
harvest numerous seafood varieties from the Atlantic waters off the
state's east coast.

"The Florida peninsula has more than 1,300 miles of coastline, and our
commercial fishermen continue to work hard to bring in their catch for
the enjoyment of consumers," Bronson said. "The commercial fishing
industry is important to our state, and we want consumers to know that
they can buy Florida seafood with confidence."

The information that is available by calling the 1-800-357-4273 hotline
will also be posted online at the Department's seafood web site
http://www.FL-Seafood.com where consumers can also find links to other
pertinent web sites including the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection. Webcams placed at various coastal locations and in retail
establishments will be added to the web site later.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida
Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are continually
monitoring water and product samples.

"If and when the quality of Florida seafood is impacted by the spill, we
will take immediate action to close the waters to commercial seafood
harvesting," Bronson said. "Our commercial fishermen take great pride in
the quality reputation Florida seafood products have earned, and we would
never put any product on the market that would tarnish this hard-earned
reputation."

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DO NOT REPLY DIRECTLY TO THIS EMAIL.
DIRECT ALL INQUIRIES TO:

Joanne McNeely
mailto:mcneelj@doacs.state.fl.us
(850) 488-0163

Paul Balthrop
mailto:balthrp@doacs.state.fl.us
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