cross posted at Main St/workingamerica.org/blog
The fishing ban in the Gulf of Mexico has been expanded:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration greatly expanded the fishing ban in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday in response to spreading oil from the BP well blowout. The prohibited area now covers 19 percent of the gulf, nearly double what it was, according to the agency.
the impact of the spill is beginning to kick in:
Officials are already seeing some impact on fish and wildlife in the region. Rowan W. Gould, the acting director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said 156 sea turtle fatalities had been recorded in the gulf since April 30, about 100 more than usual at this time of year.
Mr. Gould also said that a small number of oily birds, 35, had been recovered, including 23 dead birds directly linked to the spill.
“It’s important to note that the visibly oiled birds are a small part” of the effects of the oil spill, Dr. Gould said in a teleconference on Tuesday.
“What concerns us most is what we can’t see,” he said, adding, “We are preparing for the likelihood that it will exist in the gulf ecosystem in years to come.”
The economic impact is already being felt along the coast. In Pensacola, FL:
The spill has scared off charter fishing customers at the marina here, even though the water they'd normally trawl is still open. The 30 boats were almost all tied to their slips Tuesday and Jerry Andrews, the captain of the Entertainer, had the dock to himself.
"Usually you'd see 15 or 20 people walking up and down out here asking about the fishing. Three-fourths of these slips would be empty," said Andrews, a Pensacola native who has been fishing here for 34 years.
Andrews said before the spill he was getting between 30 and 40 calls and e-mails a day asking about chartering his boat and his customers were catching their full quotas of vermilion snapper, triggerfish, amberjack and grouper.
But in the month since the spill, he gets hired for one or two trips a week, tops. Most of his customers, who come from Alabama and Georgia, are now going to the Carolinas.
In Louisiana many of the fishermen hired by BP to help try to contain the spill are getting frustrated:
Louisiana fishermen, thrown out of work by the massive oil spill that has closed coastal waters, are jockeying for jobs to contain the mess. But just who gets those jobs is a source of mounting tension. Some workers are getting paid to go out on the water multiple days in a row, while others aren't allowed to go out at all, according to some fishermen.
They said that BP, which had promised to pay each fisherman $5,000 a month for compensation, is dallying on handing out checks. And they said that men who haven't fished in years are getting paid to work on prevention teams, even though they're not affected by the oil spill.
"It's all about who you know," said fisherman Oliver Rudesill, who was sitting in the shade beside the St. Bernard Parish home of a friend on Sunday. He has not earned a cent since the spill started, he said, while others are making hundreds of dollars a day.
His friend, David Palmer, a 33-year old fisherman with three kids, has been told his turn won't come until June. "It's so messed up it's not even funny," said Palmer, whose home sits on pylons to avoid the swampy grasses. "A person can't wait 30 to 40 days to go work."
No one can say with any certainty how this disaster will impact the gulf coast. The long term impact could be devastating:
If the oil penetrates deep within the estuaries around the Mississippi delta, it could devastate the salt marshes and bays that support as much as 90 percent of commercially fished species in the Gulf. That would spell long-term disaster for Louisiana's $1.8 billion fishing industry, not to mention the other Gulf Coast states.
"You have to question what is going to come from this," said David Wyld, a professor of management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. "Not just during the next few months, but also during the next few years and even a decade out."
On top of it all, there's the economic ripple effect. No fishing means fewer people chartering boats, and closed beaches lead to abandoned vacation plans and cancelled hotel bookings. All of that may only deepen the future economic misery for Gulf Coast residents to the tune of billions of dollars in lost revenue.
All the more reason to push for more job creation and more economic stimulus money to help states that have been hard hit, and aid the unemployed.