Boaters prep to fight encroaching oil - - The News for South Mississippi

Boaters prep to fight encroaching oil


By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Traffic was high Saturday at the Ocean Springs Harbor.  The boats that left for fun or work could soon become the newest additions to BP's oil fighting fleet.

"What we're looking for is a pool of vessels to come out and help respond to the spill and to provide their local expertise for the area," said Michael Baccigalopi, a course instructor who works for a company contracted by BP.

BP is using safety training sessions to prepare local boaters for the "vessel of opportunity" program. Through the program, boaters who attend the courses will be added to BP's roster, and could be hired on an as-needed basis for a variety of tasks.

"It may be something as simple as running some water out to help keep everybody hydrated and safe," said Baccigalopi. "It may be to help pull boom and skim oil."

"We just figured, it's a great opportunity, and we wanted to get out there and help any way that we can," said Matthew Dunn, a recreational fisherman. "Growing up and being out there fishing was such a thing, and I want to be able to do that with my kids one day."

Although the mission lies close to the heart of everyone who attended Saturday's meeting, it hits especially close to home for the commercial fishermen and boaters. The oil has already banned them from fishing federal waters, and now they fear their livelihoods depend upon BP's ability to stop the oil.

"The work is important right now. You know to have a little something coming in, while we're banned from fishing right now. And while they're checking out the seafood and making sure it's ok," said David Stiller, an Alabama commercial fisherman. 

"The most important thing is getting this thing done. It's not necessarily the check that we're going to be getting from BP to work, if we get signed on with them. It's about getting back to our normal routine way of life."

These fishermen say now that they're on BP's roster, they hope to get a call sooner rather than later.

"We're learning what to do," said Stiller. "We want to work. We're ready. We've been ready since it happened."

BP is also holding a "vessel of opportunity" training session Sunday at 3pm at the Bay High School Auditorium 3pm.

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