Fishing for a Return to Normalcy


Some state officials are starting to propose a post-gusher plan for fishermen that would involve BP paying a “bonus” to fishermen for their catch, something like 30 percent of whatever the market price happens to be. Called “Back to the Docks,” the program has reportedly gotten positive comments from BP, and why not? It would hasten the return of the industry that the oil company destroyed with its runaway well.

As always, we should hesitate to endorse any BP program until we get all the details, but clearly there’s a problem with this even if the gusher is stopped in the near term. There are huge pools of oil all over the place, and massive underwater plumes to worry about. And you can’t have a “back to normal” program when the waters are light years away from anything remotely resembling normal. And fishing is very territorial, you can’t just rush everyone to the patches of “clear” ocean.

The main “detail” we’ll be watching for is if BP requires participants in this or other programs to sign away their legal options. They did it for fishermen who only wanted to work in the cleanup, at least until we got the courts to make them stop. No doubt they’ll try again if they can.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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