In his August 28 New York Times article, Trymaine Lee reports,
Way down in the delta, just south of the Belle Chasse Ferry at Beshel’s Marina here, black men with work-worn hands and several generations of fishing in their blood sat around on old milk crates, hoping for a piece of the oil cleanup action that seems to have bypassed their little stretch of the bayou.
Nearly all of them have taken BP’s courses on oil cleanup, but few said they had been called to work; their little skiffs remain moored and forlorn, tied side-by-side like wretched sardines.
“The little guy loses again,” one of them lamented.
There was Hurricane Katrina five years ago. And now the great spill.
But even before those two blows, the fishermen in Pointe a la Hache and other small, historically African-American fishing towns and villages that dot the east bank of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans, have long had to fight hard for every dollar, every oyster and every opportunity they could drag out of the bayou.
The Huffington Post adds,
But ever since the BP oil spill back in 2010, their hauls have gotten lighter and their hopes and prayers a bit dimmer. The seafood industry and the livelihood of those who make their money off the side of boats is collapsing beneath them, fishermen said.
“We don’t have millions of dollars sitting in the bank where we can go do something else. We live and die on the seafood industry. This is our culture,” said Byron Encalade, president of the Louisiana Oystermen Association. “This is how we live.”
The oysters in many beds haven’t reproduced, he said. And early reports from shrimpers said the outlook for this season doesn’t look good, if today’s catch is any indication.
Encalade blames the 87-day oil spill in the Gulf and the dispersants used by BP to thin the oil caked on the water for blighting the sea life here.
“I don’t know where this concept of ‘Everything is alright and they are doing what they are supposed to do’ came from,” he said. “These people are suffering down here, and I don’t think they have the slightest idea of how these communities are surviving. But they’re doing it on the back of Catholic Charities, nonprofits and each other.”
Encalade said BP’s public relations machine kicked into high gear from the start of the disaster, but he and others in the Delta know all too well how devastating the spill has been.