ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – Looks can be deceiving. There may not be oil visible in the Gulf of Mexico but signs still linger of the impact it had on the gulf coast.
“It is impossible to forecast when all this stuff will be back to normal,” says charter boat captain Ben Fairey. But that’s exactly what Kenneth Feinberg says is contained in a report from a Texas A&M professor and what he is basing his calculations on when paying for damages caused by the BP oil spill.
Fairey calls it premature and reckless. “This hasn’t even been a year so how can we make an informed decision on what the long term recovery of the Gulf of Mexico is?”
To prove his point Fairey says you only have to look back about six years to the west coast of Florida where a red tide incident impacted the gag grouper population.
“That didn’t show up until this past year,” he says, “and unfortunately now the fishermen are not going to be able to harvest gag grouper for the first six months of 2011 because of something that happened at 2005.”
“This is not over just cause someone wants it to be.” Mobile Baykeeper executive director Casi Callaway read the report and says Feinberg needs to do his job. “Feinberg’s job is to deal with the economic impacts to individuals and businesses. it it not to do environmental work.”
She believes there is another reason Feinberg commissioned the report and BP paid for it.
“What Feinberg would like to do, and BP would like to do is wrap everything in a nice little bow and call it finished, and put a timeline on it, and we never have to look at the gulf again.”
According to the study, shrimp in the gulf coast should return to normal harvest levels by 2012, excluding royal red shrimp. Blue crab should be back this year. Oyster reefs could take as long as ten years to fully recover. The recovery of finfish depends largely on how much the juvenile classes were impacted during the disaster.