Environment Forum

Some fishing goes on despite the oil spill

May 29, 2010

Venice, Louisiana, proudly calls itself the world’s “Fishing Capital” but as the Memorial Day holiday weekend gets under way, there are times when it seems journalists outnumber anglers in this steamy bayou town. There are also lots of fishing and charter guides with no or few clients.

Venice caters to recreational anglers in pursuit of legendary game such as redfish and it is suffering as the spill spreads from the ruptured well out in the Gulf of Mexico.

I have spoken to several fishing guides over the past couple of days and they all complain about BP — held squarely responsible for the mess — the situation, and the numerous clients who keep canceling their trips.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Friday that it was extending the closed fishing area to about 25 percent of the Gulf from around 19 percent before, dealing a further blow to both commercial fishermen and sport angling guides.

OIL-RIG/

But what surprises me as someone who just arrived here a couple of days ago is the trickle of boats still leaving the Venice Marina with angling clients. They seem to be going either close inshore or very far because of the closures.

Several of the guides I spoke to said there were still inshore areas open to fishing though one said, “We have to work harder for the fish because the good areas we normally go to are closed.” Some grumbled that the media coverage was obscuring this fact.

Guide Jeff Fuscia , while loading his 24-foot (7-1/2 meter) boat onto a trailer, told me on Friday his clients that morning had taken their limit of five redfish each and had released several more. But another guide told me while fueling up his large boat that he was going out 130 miles (215 kms) to get well beyond the restrictions.

This is all very frustrating especially as this is the start of the peak sport fishing season, which runs until early September.

Even more worrying perhaps is the uncertainty over the spill and the impact it could have on Gulf fish stocks in the long run, not least because it has been unleashed just as many species start to spawn.

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Picture credit: A Codepink activist, dressed as a fish and covered in oil, lies on the sidewalk during a staged demonstration calling for BP to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, during a protest outside BP Plc’s corporate headquarters building in Houston May 24, 2010. REUTERS/Richard Carson (UNITED STATES)   

 

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