Allen said the government hired local fishermen to help with the cleanup and also to provide them with job opportunities. He said toxicologists are looking at what might be behind the fishermen's sickness, including food sources. But environmentalists say more needs to be done in ensuring the health of local fishermen.
Obama held a nearly hour-long news conference Thursday to announce that planned oil exploration in the Gulf coast and off the Atlantic Coast will be cancelled and a six-month moratorium will be placed on new, deepwater drilling permits.
The president also pushed back against critics who say the federal government didn't act quickly enough.
"Those who think that we were either slow on our response or lacked urgency don't know the facts," Obama said. "This has been our highest priority since this crisis occurred."
At the same time, he also took responsibility, saying the federal government is in charge of containing the oil spill, not BP.
"I take responsibility," he said."It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down."
A USA Today/Gallup poll released Thursday showed that 6 in 10 Americans say the government is doing a "poor" job on the oil spill.
ABC News' Matt Gutman, Jeffrey Kofman, Jake Tapper and Karen Travers contributed to this report.