The US Government has declared a "fishery disaster" in the seafood-producing states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama due to an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, making them eligible for federal funds. "We are taking this action today because of the potentially significant economic hardship this spill may cause fishermen and the businesses and communities that depend on those fisheries," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement. "The disaster determination will help ensure that the Federal government is in a position to mobilise the full range of assistance that fishermen and fishing communities may need," he said. Louisiana's $2.4 billion seafood industry supplies up to 40% of US seafood supply and employs over 27,000 people. The state is the second-biggest US seafood harvester and the top provider of shrimp, oysters, crab and crawfish. The statement did not give any figures or say when funds would be dispersed. Gulf of Mexico states have lost access to many commercial fisheries as a blown-out oil well spews hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf every day, a disaster that threatens to become the worst US oil spill in history.