It’s got to be hard to be a shrimper.
I know I certainly don’t envy anyone who makes their living by what they catch from Gulf waters, be they shrimpers or fishers or whoever, because things don’t seem to be getting much better. The catch, especially the shrimp catch is way off, with some shrimpers estimating their catch to be off by 80%. In one article I read, a company used to taking in ten thousand pounds of shrimp per day has taken in about 41,000 pounds all season.
And it isn’t just the shrimp.
Many have read reports of the killifish, and the cellular damage done to its reproductive functions and gills as a result of hydrocarbon poisoning. Many also are aware this small minnow like fish is near the bottom of the food chain and is considered a good indicator of the Gulf’s general health.
Even Ken Feinberg seemed to backtrack the other day on his estimation of a recovered Gulf by 2013 when he said of the shrimp catch, “We are monitoring this, and we are sensitive to these concerns. We reserve the right to change the formula if anecdotal and empirical evidence justifies it.” And that’s about as close to an admission of error as one’s likely to get from Ken, not that he’ll actually change anything but I suppose admitting to a problem is the first step.
Oh and let’s see, what else? Ah yes, though the FDA has maintained the Gulf seafood is safe to eat, a new study has challenged this assumption, reporting the FDA’s qualifications on what constitutes safe are incredibly flawed.
So…bad catches, sick fish, FDA screw-ups…yep, it’s got to be hard to be a shrimper, a fisher, anyone working the Gulf waters these days…and besides the fact the oil’s still out there, you know what else isn’t helping, what’s making this whole Gulf Coast mess even worse?
Eighteen months later, the information is still inconsistent. We’ve been treated to eighteen months of profit margins, legal maneuverings and a whole range of answers and/or denials to every goddamned question…
Everyone has been forced to endure eighteen months of agendas.
The EPA, the FDA and the NOAA all appear to have an agenda designed to make it seem the Gulf is perfectly fine. British Petroleum’s agenda is all about savings and profit margin, all the time, and their stance too is that everything is okay in the Gulf. The Obama Administration has their own agendas, their own problems. For starters, they’re not seen as trustworthy, having initially ceded far too much control to British Petroleum in the capping of the well and the clean-up, and now, today, they are widely perceived as having forgotten the Gulf Coast even exists at all…
And all these agendas, they all bring us back to the seafood industry.
What exactly is a fisher supposed to make of all this? That person who is just trying to get their life back to normal, who wants to get back to work, but also doesn’t want to make anybody sick; what the fuck are they supposed to do? Who are they supposed to believe? Who are they supposed to trust? BP? The government? The FDA and NOAA? All these entities telling them everything is fine, or the increasingly negative academic studies, not to mention the fishers own years of experience in the Gulf waters, showing them that something appears to be wrong out there…
So hard to know for sure, and such an unenviable place to be.
And you know what really pisses me off?
It didn’t have to be this way, not at all.
If British Petroleum had stuck to their promises to make people whole. If Feinberg had stuck to his promises to take care of the people in the Gulf British Petroleum hadn’t gotten to, perhaps then the financial pressures could have been eased off on everybody. If the Obama Administration had done more than toss out a fucking speech and Barack had come down to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and done more than look concerned, pick up a tarball or eaten a damned shrimp…if Obama had worked, as a leader and kept the Gulf, and everything the Gulf means to this country in the foreground of American consciousness…maybe then these problems would seem more manageable today, to everybody.
If the only agenda in the Gulf had been to make sure people were taken care of and those responsible for this mess were held accountable…yes, if that had been the only agenda, then today in the Gulf we might at least have trust.
Instead, all we got are versions of what’s real: BP’s version, Obama’s version, the FDA’s version, the NRDC’s version, LSU’s, the shrimper’s, Halliburton’s and the GCCF’s version…just to name a few.
And that ain’t helping anybody.
Certainly not the public, and certainly not the people who continue to suffer as a result of BP’s catastraphuk.
So what now?
Wish I knew…all I hope for at this point is that Feinberg, for once, can be taken at his word, and he actually will take a long, hard look at the recovery estimates he based his methodology upon…because if you work harder to catch only 20% of the shrimp you normally get, the payment methodology needs to be changed.
Oh, and to the BP spokesman who said the 80% drop-off in the shrimp catch is within the normal range of good and bad seasons, you are just one more bullshit microphone with another ethically conflicted agenda, and you should be tossed into the next oil sheen spotted on the Gulf’s surface above the Macondo wellhead.
So, to sum up…a corporation screwed up and did billions in financial damage to an entire region of the country, not to mention the emotional toll on people and the physical toll on the environment. The people have recourse to the law, but that is a process that could take decades. The government issues false platitudes and seems to disappear just when they are needed most, almost as if they are backing the corporations that did the damage rather than the people who got screwed.
And nobody goes to jail.
Hey, now that I think about it, sure sounds familiar, kinda like what those people in New York are so pissed off about.
Maybe its time to occupy British Petroleum.
Have a nice day.