Fishermen say impacts still linger from BP oil spill
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Four years after the BP oil spill, the disaster is still unfolding, with many unanswered questions. That was one message that came Thursday from a news conference in Biloxi.
Commercial fishermen and several advocacy groups gathered at a dock on Biloxi Back Bay to discuss the lingering impacts from the Deepwater Horizon. Against a backdrop of shrimp boats, Vietnamese fishermen held message boards, along with pictures of dead dolphins, turtles and tar balls.
Four years later, oil spill impacts are still affecting their livelihood.
"We believe this disaster has greatly impacted the ability of fisheries to spawn. And that's why they're not seeing the fisheries they used to. They're not catching what they used to. We believe that the spawning ability has been greatly impacted," said Thao Vo, an advocate for fishing families.
"We have had over a thousand dolphins stranded since this event happened. We've had over 1,500 sea turtles die because, we think due to the spill," said Terese Collins, with the Gulf Islands Conservancy.
Collins said gulf residents need to prepare for what will likely be many more years of lingering oil spill impacts.
"In 2014, we've had about 815 pounds of oil, tar picked up from the barrier islands. While that has sand mixed in it, that sand is also something that the shore birds feed in. And so are those birds picking up contaminated sediment?" she asked.
As for the generations of fishermen, they simply want to continue to work the waters. Several suggested they be hired as part of the restoration of oyster reefs for instance.
"Work with fishermen, hire them. Oyster harvesters with experience, to actually do for example, oyster relay, oyster transplant," said fisherman, Bien Do, speaking through an interpretor.
"The oysters that he used to dredge up and harvest is no longer there," said fisherman Thana Nguyen.
"They need to focus on real restoration of the reefs. And that means actually working and employing local, experienced fishermen," added Tuat Nguyen.
The Gulf Future Coalition is calling on BP to settle the ongoing litigation and agree to pay the maximum penalty.
"We encourage them to end the litigation. Tell the truth. Bring the money to the five gulf states that were impacted so we can begin a robust restoration," said Roberta Avila, with the Gulf Future Coalition.
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