While television ads and other media portray a Gulf that has bounced back from last year’s devastating oil spill thanks to BP’s efforts to “make things right,” thousands of business owners whose livelihoods are tied directly to the Gulf of Mexico continue to struggle with devastating losses. There’s the spin and there’s the reality, and the disconnect between the two continues to anger and frustrate Gulf residents.
New Orleans’ Times-Picayune takes aim at those who look upon the BP oil spill and say “hey, there’s risk in everything” as a “quick, neat way of belittling the concerns of others impacted by the spill [and] a way of demeaning anyone who fears consequences.” According to the paper, the dismissive statement is “always offered by someone working in the oil industry as a response to those demanding tighter regulations and oversights in our public waters.”
It’s also easier, as the Times-Picayune explains, for those with a vested interest in the oil industry to adopt a cavalier attitude about the spill because in their line of work, the profits are privatized, but risk is socialized.
One year after engineers finally capped the runaway well that spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, charter boat businesses and marina operators are “still paying the bill for industry’s risky business,” with revenues down 40 to 60 percent, the Times-Picayune report says.
When Louisiana charter boat captains contact their loyal customers who return year after year to fish in the Gulf, asking why they aren’t booking this year, most of the regulars express worry about not being able to eat what they catch off the Louisiana coast.
“It’s the No. 1 question I get when I call some of them to see what’s up,” Ryan Lambert, owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures, a large regional deep-sea fishing outfitter, told the Times-Picayune.
“Right off the bat, ‘How’s the fish? How’s the fish? Can I eat the fish?'” Mr. Lambert said, adding that these customers can go somewhere else to fish and not have to worry about the toxicity of their catch.
Fishing trips always booked months in advance, but after the Deepwater Horizon exploded, that abruptly stopped. Business remains a mere trickle of what it used to be. Most of the scant few trips are booked last-minute, leaving charter boat operators living in a constant state of uncertainty. September and October, traditionally the most heavily booked months by out of town visitors, remain empty when they’re usually booked solid by now.
And it doesn’t matter that state and federal regulators have found Gulf seafood safe to eat. Images of oiled birds, dead dolphins, and marshlands and coasts covered in crude seem to be stuck in the public’s mind. According to the Times-Picayune, most people polled said they wouldn’t eat Gulf seafood. And it naturally follows that if they won’t eat it, they likely won’t spend time and money fishing in the Gulf.
“We knew this would happen,” Mr. Lambert told the Times-Picayune. “That’s why I go crazy when I see all these ads from BP saying how they’re making things right. Things won’t be right again down here for years.”
Beasley Allen attorneys are investigating hundreds of claims of damages resulting from the BP oil spill. A report published April 29 in the Mobile Press-Register estimated “more than 130,000 plaintiffs – including people, businesses and government agencies – have joined the federal court lawsuit against BP PLC” and other defendants. Beasley Allen’s Rhon Jones is serving on the MDL as part of the Plaintiff’s Steering Committe.
Visit our BP oil spill website for more information.
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