And the Dam Began to Crack…Two Studies and the Fishermen Speak Out

How long can it hold?

Scientists, fishermen, activists…all across the Gulf Coast have been speaking out against what many of them believe to be unrealistic numbers from the government and with the news of two recent studies, the news media appears to once again be listening as the NOAA, state officials and in one particular instance, a seafood factory owner was forced to go on the defensive.

First the Georgia Study called into serious question the government’s claim that 75% of the oil was “gone,” instead suggesting that these numbers were being widely misinterpreted, that in fact dispersed oil is still toxic and is also still there, up to 79% of it lurking in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Next came a study by the University of South Florida finding oil from the Deepwater Horizon may have settled to the bottom of the Gulf as close as 40 miles away from the Florida panhandle. John Paul, a marine microbiologist at USF stated, “The dispersant is moving the oil down, out of the surface and into the deeper waters, where it can affect phytoplankton and other marine life.” The DeSoto Canyon, a channel on the ocean floor where the oil has spread is a part of the spawning grounds for much of the Gulf’s commercial fish. David Hollander, a USF chemical engineer said there is concern these droplets of oil could be consumed by fish and accumulate in the food chain, “small larval fish see these droplets as food so they’re ingesting pure oil.”

An NOAA spokesman, Justin Kenney defended his agency’s calculations, saying they were “based on direct measurements whenever possible and the best available scientific estimates where direct measurements were not possible.” NOAA response scientist, Bill Lehr, however disagreed, saying the vast majority of it is based on “educated scientific guesses,” because unless the oil was being burned or skimmed, measurements weren’t possible.

So, if all this oil does indeed exist under the water’s surface as these two studies suggest, it would seem to give pause to the government officials who continue to open up fishing grounds.

This is not the case.

And a growing number of fishermen are unhappy about it.

At a rally last Sunday held in Panama City Beach, several fishermen were heard expressing their concerns, “We had fishermen wading into the water three days ago covered in oil,”  said Alabama fisherman Capt. Chris Bryant. “How can these waters possibly be safe for people to fish?”

“It’s outrageous, “says shrimp fisherman Acy Cooper, VP of the Louisiana Shrimp Association last night. “We don’t think these waters are safe for shrimping yet they open them anyway. BP is laying off fishermen from the cleanup, so a lot of them won’t have a choice. But we all know what will happen if contaminated shrimp gets into the market. And the fishermen will get the blame.”

At a DMR meeting yesterday morning in Biloxi Mississippi, more anger was felt as Delores Suarez questioned the reopening of the shrimp season, “These fishermen don’t want to ruin the seafood industry. If we put something out there while there’s still gunk in the waters, people don’t want it. That ruins our seafood industry,” she told commissioners.

Richard Gollet, a seafood factory owner disagreed, pointedly, suggesting they are hurting themselves by ignoring the testing which says the seafood is safe, “The Food and Drug Administration said there’s nothing wrong with the seafood out of the Gulf of Mexico. What is wrong with you people is you don’t want to get off the BP payroll and go to work,” said Gollet.

Needless to say, fishermen, taking more of a long view of their career, livelihoods and culture, disagreed.

“Sir, I’ve never been on the BP payroll,” said Suarez.

“I can’t believe you said that,” another fisherman was heard to say.

“All we need is a good southeast wind. And we’re going to have the stuff in here again. It didn’t go anywhere. It went to the bottom and that’s where its at. I don’t care what any of you all say, I’m telling you it’s there,” said commercial fisherman Jeffrey Powell.

Kindra Arnesen, the wife of a Louisiana fishermen and a community activist who at one time was invited into BP’s offices before she turned whistleblower, had this to say at a recent gathering, “From what we are being told the dock owners have asked our fisherman to sign a waiver saying that they would be responsible for their own catch and as to whether or not the catch was clean without chemicals in it. This liability can not fall with our fisherman.”

So here we are:

The official story is beginning to crumble.

The dam is starting to show leaks.

The news media is back on task, widely reporting the findings of these two studies by the University of Georgia and the University of South Florida and by way of their independent results, it is quickly becoming evident why British Petroleum is hiring scientists for their legal defense teams and signing them to a three-year confidentiality clause. Not to be outdone, the Federal Government’s National Resource Damage Assessment is doing the same, in one instance, confiscating the research by scientists who were studying insects around the Gulf Coast. Both BP and the feds claim they are doing so as part of normal legal proceedings and that may very well be the case, however it also keeps the information these scientists might discover, good or bad from the public.

But these times, they are a changing. It’s one of the great things about information as a whole is it’s more often than not impossible to suppress forever. More independent studies are underway now, but the danger of controlling information, even for a time is as these studies are being completed, what else will we find out, and when we do, will it be too late?

The EPA, NOAA and the FDA continue to cling to their analysis and their studies, doing their best to maintain the official story that is being questioned more and more, and being questioned by the fishermen. Why? Well, many of those who have spent their lives on the water of the Gulf Coast realize that like there were doubts about those oil spill numbers, there are lingering doubts about the safety of the seafood. If one batch of shrimp, crab or oysters turns out to be tainted by oil or dispersants the media will be all over that story, just as they are now about the studies from Georgia and Florida. And whereas this might cause some government officials a bit of embarrassment, force some denials and reassurances…for the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on the seafood catch, that story would be devastating for years to come.

Read the articles:

Angry fishermen speak out at DMR meeting

Gulf surface looks cleaner, but woes lurk below

Have a nice day.

6 thoughts on “And the Dam Began to Crack…Two Studies and the Fishermen Speak Out

    1. The fudging of the numbers is very frustrating and it would seem stories have changed so frequently and continue to do so, the confusion caused has become a happy side effect to the powers that be…if instilling the sense in the public that nobody is sure what is going on, it can be hoped that also, nobody can know the truth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s