This is a cross-post with The Left Call
Al Jazeera reports that after almost two years, the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is still causing devastation to commercial fishing. Fisherman like Greg Perez have seen their business and way of life drastically affected, and in some cases they have had to give up completely. “We are investing personal money to rebuild oyster reefs, but so far it’s not working,” said Perez.
BP claims oil can no longer be found on the sea floor and that things are back to normal, but the people who live and work in the Gulf region tell a different story. Many Gulf Coast commercial fisherman are suing BP for loss of income. Tuan Dang, a Mississippi shrimper says, “Normally I can get 8,000 pounds of brown shrimp in four days…but this year, I only get 800 pounds in a week.”
The sentiment seems to be unanimous among the people interviewed by Al Jazeera, 2010 was a really bad year for commercial fisheries in the Gulf Coast and 2011 was even worse. They have little reason to believe 2012 will be any better. “2010 was the worst year we’ve had in 15 years…2011 was worse than 2010,” said Henry Poynot, owner of Big Fisherman Seafood in New Orleans.
Even if the levels of shrimp and oysters increase, there is still a stigma attached to seafood from the Gulf region. Many people do not want to eat seafood from this area, which is perfectly understandable given the deadly impact of the oil spill on wildlife. This means it could be a long time, if ever, before business returns to pre-spill levels.
One effect of the spill that was not predicted is an invasion of foreign species into the Gulf. A sponge that is native to northern climates like the northeast Atlantic Coast can now be found growing on oysters in the Gulf. A worm that destroys oyster shells and is native to Maine has also been discovered.
Al Jazeera’s report ends with the ominous fact that herring have not returned in great numbers since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. Fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico hope for a better scenario, but given the scale of the BP oil spill, the success of fisheries in this area seems perilous.