Dead Waters and Empty Bank Accounts: Still suffering after BP oil spill, fishermen fear extinction

by Jesse Muhammad 

(For FinalCall.com) - Gary Barthelemy says he may never recover from the catastrophic BP oil spill, has zero cash flow and the total demise of a once successful industry is nigh.

“I may just have to retire. Since the BP oil spill, we haven’t had anything to fish because all of the reefs are dead. In all of my years I’ve never seen the waters this dead like I have in the last two years,” Mr. Barthelemy, 66, told The Final Call.

He says a normal season would produce millions of oysters for them to fish over a 3-4 year span. They would then be able to sell them to dealers on the dock.

“Our community has lived off of the water and now our community is dead. We have no cash flow. But it’s not just Black fishermen. Everyone is suffering. BP made promise after promise and has not followed through,” said Mr. Barthelemy, who served as president of Fisherman and Concerned Citizens group. He has been an oyster fisherman for 45 years.

“This is the first time in generations we have had our waters taken from us. Our businesses and community has collapsed. There are no oysters on the east bank, which was considered a rich fishing ground. The oyster industry is no more,” oyster fisherman Byron Encalade told The Final Call.

Mr. Encalade is president of the Louisiana Oysterman Association and the South Plaquemines United Fisheries Cooperative. Their town, Pointe A’La Hache, is a small predominately Black fishing village in Plaquemines Parish. In the past, the fishermen of Pointe A’La Hache have been very self-sufficient in generating income for their families. Today is not the case. [Read the Full Article]

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