Oil Slick a “Nightmare” for Louisiana’s Fishing Industry
The president of Daybrook Fisheries, Gregory Holt, has called the growing oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico a “nightmare.” The major fish processor exports fish oil and fish meal around the world and employs hundreds of people in southern Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish. Three weeks into the 6-month fishing season, the giant oil slick is already having a terrible impact on the commercial and recreational fishing industry in the region, which normally can bring in $2.4 billion a year. According to Holt, the fishing industry has lost 50 percent of their fishing grounds and 50 percent of their usual catch.
About 210,000 gallons of crude oil have been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico per day since the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20. The explosion killed 11 oil rig workers and caused pipes connected to the mile-deep well to rupture. It has been three weeks since the rig exploded and officials, engineers, scientists, fisherman and others have been frantically working on ways to plug the leak and sop up oil or otherwise remove oil that has already come to the surface, but it is still unknown when the pipes will finally be plugged. Meanwhile, residents of the Gulf coast and those dependent on a marine-based economy are anxiously watching the environmental disaster unfold and waiting to see when and where the oil will come ashore.
Last week, Louisiana officials banned fishing in a large area off the coast for at least 10 days, fearing that the oil will have contaminated the catch. Now, many fishing boats have to take on the expense of traveling at least twenty-hour round trips to get to the still-fishable areas in the gulf.
Holt says the Daybrook fish processing facility was completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He said they rebuilt and were just getting back on track when the Deepwater Horizon exploded. He said that he believes state officials have been doing a good job responding to the disaster and he’s hopeful that those in the industry can keep their spirits up and make it through the latest crises.