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Fishermen Turn to BP for Pay

May 19th, 2010 by flanews

Twenty percent of the entire Gulf of Mexico is closed to fisherman, both charter and commercial. The extended federal fishing ban is forcing many to hang up their reels and, as Whitney Ray tells us, turn to BP for a paycheck.

Ricky Banks is unloading oysters he harvested early wed morning. Hes paid 170 dollars for his harvest but doesnt know how much longer hell be able to turn to the oyster rich Apalachicola Bay for a paycheck.

I fear it, but I also pray too and I know God can do anything, said Ricky.

The massive oil leak near Louisiana has shut down fishing in about a fifth of the Gulf, forcing some charter and commercial boat captains out of work. BP is hiring some of the fisherman to help keep the oil off the coast. Ricky says if Apalachicola is hit, he wants to help.

BP should step up to the plate and pay me what Im making everyday, said Ricky.

Hundreds of fisherman have signed contracts with BP to use their boats to help deploy protective boom . On average the pay is higher than what they would make fishing.

BP has set up a claims office in Apalachicola, at this abandoned high school, in order to work more closely with fishermen.

Shrimper Elmer Clark is still holding out hope that he wont have to walk through those doors, but says a one-time check or a job deploying boom isnt enough if he loses his career.

The boat note still goes, the house note still goes, payments for bills and whatever still goes regardless if this boat goes or not, you still have to pay those bills, said Elmer.

While many fishermen appreciate BPS efforts to keep them working lawsuits are still moving forward against the oil giant. BP has already begun to pay claims and is giving the state 50 million dollars to protect the coast and attract tourists, but Floridas attorney general could still sue if the damage to the states fishing and tourism industry continues to grow.

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