|Dean Blanchard breaks open a tar ball on Grand Isle|
The scientist, Dr Richard Condrey, retired LSU coastal ecologist, explained how things could go from bad to worse. Some species of fish may never recover. Some crabs have shown changes in their reproductive organs which could lead to the eradication of species in the area. Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, was in attendance. He worries about the after effects of dispersants on people, plants and animals, and he's concerned that the coastal restoration plan overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers is problematic. The planners aren't talking to the local population, the people who know the area best. No-one is officially checking for oil anymore, although fishermen spot oil almost daily, Nungesser says. Rithy Om, a Cambodian shrimper from Buras part of Plaquemines Parish, says he often loses money when he goes out shrimping. With his overhead more then wiping out his profit since his catch is off. The Buras Cambodian community of about 50 families is helping each other through hard times, Om's daughter Lynda tells me. She doesn't know how long they can last but she can't imagine them moving. That area is all those families know and shrimping is what they do.
|Signs on Seafood Inc. on Grand Isle|
The day after the conference I took a trip to Grand Isle to meet with Dean Blanchard to see first hand the tar balls he said are still washing up on the beach. It didn't take long to spot them. Blanchard's business is way off. He loses money daily by staying open, but he can't see himself staying home. If he were to close his shrimp processing center, local fishermen would suffer even more, forced to take their catch miles away. Tuna Phan's boat came in to process his shrimp. After paying all his expenses for the trip and paying his deck hands, he will make $400 for nine days work. At least he'll be able to feed his family he tells me. His catch of the day included tiger shrimp, an invasive species threatening Gulf shrimp along with the chemicals in the water. Blanchard can't stay on the beach very long. He has to head to Biloxi where he will meet with the team of lawyers working on his case. He will not stay quiet about what is happening nor will he settle for less than what he believes BP owes him. No one will buy him off. If anything, he would like to buy off the state officials to fight BP, but Governor Jindal, who denied taking BP money, shrugged him off when he inquired, "What would it cost to bring you over to the people's side?"
BP commercials rub salt in the wounds of Louisiana fishermen. "Making Us Whole," the BP slogan, is a running joke. No wonder BP declined an invitation to send representatives to the GO FISH conference.
|Billy Nungesser with Dean Blanchard at the GO FISH conference|
|GO FISH conference in the Alario Center in Westwego|
|Diagram of health isues found in female crabs|
|Rithy Om, Cambodian shrimper from Buras|
|Dead dolphin on Elmer's Island|
|Tourism Down on Elmer's Island and Grand Isle|
|Open Tar ball|
|Tiger Shrimp- Invasive speices|
|Crabber on Grand Isle with small catch|
My coverage of the BP oil spill is on my website- www.juliedermansky.com and my books ( 2 on the oil spill) can be previewed and/or purchased on Blurb's site.