She said scientists still don't know the oil's environmental effect underwater. For help with the long-term recovery, BP has hired Witt and his public safety and crisis management consulting firm. Witt, who was FEMA director under President Bill Clinton, said he wants to set up teams along the Gulf to work with BP to address long-term restoration and people's needs. "Our hope is that we can do it as fast as we can," Witt said. "I've seen the anguish and the pain that people have suffered after disaster events. I have seen communities come back better than before."
BP and Witt's firm refused to say how much Witt will be paid for his work. Commercial fishermen, meanwhile, were allowed back on a section of Louisiana waters east of the Mississippi River on Friday after federal authorities said samples of finfish and shrimp taken from the areas were safe to eat. About 70 percent of Louisiana waters are now open to some kind of commercial fishing, but state waters in Mississippi and Alabama remain closed and so do nearly a quarter of federal waters in the Gulf. Reinforcing the state's declaration that Louisiana seafood is safe to eat was U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. At a news conference in New Orleans, she said fish showed levels of contaminants that were "extremely low, significantly below the threshhold of concern." Hamburg stressed that testing will continue because of the large volumes of oil spilled and the large amounts of dispersants used to break it up. Seafood industry representatives hailed the reopening, but Rusty Graybill, a boat captain from Yscloskey, La., who fishes for crab, oysters and shrimp, said "it's a joke." "I'm pretty sure I'll go out and I'll get oil-covered shrimp. They capped this well and now they're trying to say it's OK," he said. Graybill, a wiry 28-year-old with a leathery tan, made a 2-inch circle with his thumb and finger. "I'm still finding tar balls this big out there, and the boom is still covered in oil," he said. Louisiana fisherman Pete Gerica couldn't work up much enthusiasm, either. He noted that it doesn't include crabs or oysters and that shrimp season in most of the area has yet to open. "If you can't crab in these areas, it's a flop," Gerica said. Oil rig workers are struggling along with fishermen because a federal moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Those workers will be getting $100 million in aid that BP said Friday it will distribute through a Louisiana charity. There is no official estimate of how many people have been out of work since the Interior Department imposed the moratorium in June. Drilling has since been suspended on 33 exploratory wells. The fund is focused on people who worked on the rigs drilling those wells, not people who provided support services, such as ferrying supplies to them, said Mukul Verma, a foundation spokesman. Those people might get money if there is any left over after grants are provided to rig workers, BP spokesman Tom Mueller said.