Gulf fisheries in decline after oil disaster

Nearly two years after BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, fishermen and scientists say things are getting worse.

Fishermen, like Greg Perez in Louisiana, are seeing huge declines in their catches (Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera)
New Orleans, LA – Hundreds of thousands of people living along the US Gulf Coast have hung their economic lives on lawsuits against BP.

Fishermen, in particular, are seeing their way of life threatened with extinction – both from lack of an adequate legal settlement and collapsing fisheries.

One of these people, Greg Perez, an oyster fisherman in the village of Yscloskey, Louisiana, has seen a 75 per cent decrease in the amount of oysters he has been able to catch.

“Since the spill, business has been bad,” he said. “Sales and productivity are down, our state oyster grounds are gone, and we are investing personal money to rebuild oyster reefs, but so far it’s not working.”

Perez, like so many Gulf Coast commercial fisherman, has been fishing all his life. He said those who fish for crab and shrimp are “in trouble too”, and he is suing BP for property damage for destroying his oyster reefs, as well as for his business’ loss of income.

People like Perez make it possible for Louisiana to provide 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US.

But Louisiana’s seafood industry, valued at about $2.3bn, is now fighting for its life.

‘The shrimp are all dead’

Perez is not alone.

“They said they’d make things right and they never did,” said Nicholas Harris, a fourth-generation oyster fisherman in eastern Louisiana. “Business has been s****y, and BP kept low-balling us with how much money they said they’d give us for compensation, so we got our attorneys involved.”

Harris, like Perez, is suing the oil giant for property damage and loss of income.

Read the full story at Al Jazeera English.