Local Seafood Industry Still Suffering from BP Oil Spill

Four years later and our local seafood industry is still suffering because of the BP oil spill. Some people and businesses have settled their claims with the oil giant, but others are waiting for the outcome of an ongoing court battle over economic and environmental losses in a New Orleans district court. Last week, a federal judge ruled BP negligent in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history, a decision BP is appealing.

Sean Desporte and his family have been part of the south Mississippi seafood industry for 120 years. Their business has survived massive hurricanes and failing economies, but they tell News 25 nothing hit them as hard as the BP oil spill in 2010. Desporte says, "It hurt us a bunch. We had to go borrow loans to stay open."

The Desportes say they settled with BP over the damages the oil spill caused to keep their business from closing down, but believe they were shorted compared to what other businesses received. Desporte also says, "It was such a long process, and there was so many ups and downs that we went ahead and just accepted our offer, and I think we should have got more, because there were other businesses that wasn’t affected as much and got a lot more."

Last week, a federal judge ruled BP negligent in the 2010 offshore oil spill, a decision that may cost the company billions more dollars that would go toward restoring the Gulf Coast, a decision BP has chosen to appeal. Roberta Avila, Executive Director of the Steps Coalition, says, "They may be fined up to $18 billion for the restoration of the five states affected. That’s probably a big reason, and probably they think if they negotiate they can bring down that amount that they have to pay."

Another reason BP is appealing is because of the number of claims that are not directly related to the spill itself. The Desportes believe it’s BP’s responsibility to investigate. Desporte closes, "They should definitely investigate, and they ought to check to see the people they think should get more, because you know we were really affected by it. Oyster prices almost doubled, shrimp prices doubled, it was hard for us to even get seafood, and for a long time, people were scared to even buy seafood."

The money connected in last week’s ruling is earmarked for private business and personal claims, money that still may not be shelled out for years to come. As for now, claim agencies say the claims by state agencies and commercial fishermen in Mississippi are mostly paid out. BP will be in court again in January to determine how much they will pay in pollution fines.

Categories: Local News, News

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