Commercial fishermen say they want jobs with BP - - The News for South Mississippi

Commercial fishermen say they want jobs with BP

By WLOX Staff

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - There are now more than a thousand Commercial fishermen in Mississippi who have contracts in BP's Vessels of Opportunity Program.  Since the program started WLOX has received complaints about boat owners who haven't been put to work or out of state fishermen being hired.   

WLOX NEWS found out BP is getting those complaints too and is now in the process of restructuring the program.   Brian Brooks has tried to get his boat  "The Lovely Lura" in BP's Vessels of Opportunity Program for the past month. But so far he has had no luck .  "You have commercial fishermen out here that are bagging for a job and can't get a job.  And you have people that are coming from out of town registering their vessels."   

To make matter worse, he says many of the boaters now enrolled are being allowed to register additional boats. " Now they've enrolled a second and a third and a 4th vessel and since it's the vessel of opportunity other people should have the opportunity to have a vessel in there." 

BP's Public Information Officer, Lisa Houghton said that's not the way it's supposed to be.   " If that's happening we'd want to know about it so that we can turn that in to the proper authorities so that they can look into it because that's not what we want to happen at all." She says the company is now addressing many of the concerns Brooks and other fishermen have.  "There are nearly a thousand boats today in Mississippi on the water and the vast majority of them are from Mississippi but we're doing now is going through working with DMR to do a cross check to make sure those who are activated have Mississippi commercial license and they needed to have that licenses not to just go get it yesterday but to have had it before March." 

The goal is to weed out the fishermen and boats that should not be in the program and bring aboard those who should.  "People who know these waters the best  they've grown up on it they've done it all their lives and they know the waters the best."  BP will ask local leaders to help them find the right people in the community to get the job done. 

The BP spokeswoman told us, right now they are only hiring boats that are 50-foot or larger.  She said they had a tremendous response to the program and have contracts with more than 2000 vessels in Mississippi.

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