Posts Tagged ‘Fishermen’

“It’s Our Life”

Saturday evening, we went down to the bridge on Grand Isle to speak with some locals and get their perspectives on the oil spill its affect on the water.  It didn’t take long to get them talking; there is a lot of passion and enthusiasm in this community.  One of the guys we spoke with told us that despite tar balls washing up on the beach daily, he believes the water is ok now and the shrimp are safe to eat.  We heard conflicting stories in our visit, but the over-arching message that emerged was that things are beginning to settle down and return to ‘normal’ for many of the locals.

There is a strong need to believe what they are being told by the local officials and government agencies such as NOAA, because the water and fish that live in it are truly their lives.  Without fishing, there is no community.  Fishing is a way of providing food, income, time for family and friends to spend together, and also a way to simply relax.  All of this and more was lost when the water was closed to fishing.

We were on Grand Isle just 2 weeks after some of the waters in the area were opened for fishing again and there was definitely a sense of relief amongst the fishermen that they were able to return to this important ritual that sustains them on so many levels.  However, when the conversation veered to the presence of chemical dispersants in the water, the tone changed.

In future posts, we will dig deeper into this issue, including in-depth interviews with Lori from Alabama, who told us about the ongoing use of dispersants and their affect on the water and air near her home.  We posted a quick entry on her perspective on dispersant use, but will be revisiting this issue in greater detail in the days ahead.

Thanks for following along.

27

08 2010

Conflicting Emotions, part 1

Saturday on Grand Isle was definitely different than anything I could have imagined before we embarked on this journey.  There is definitely a spirit here – one that defies description. It was this spirit – the spirit of the people in this community and many others like it that drove us to come on this amazing journey.

We got up early to catch the sunrise over the beach behind our ‘camp’ – this is how the locals refer to the compounds that are essentially houses on stilts that are full of bedrooms with multiple beds in each bedroom.  The camp we are staying in has 6 bedrooms, and more beds than we could even think about using. Josie at the Port Commission found this place for us after all of the cabins and motels we called were totally full (mainly with BP cleanup workers, Coast Guard, etc.).  Josie has truly been the most helpful resource we could have asked for here on Grand Isle, and we can’t thank her enough!  So, Saturday morning bright and early we walked out onto the beach to get some pictures.  I got what I believe are some very beautiful images of a fisherman wading in the tide at sunrise.

Grand Isle at Sunrise 8.21.10

Part of the team had already ventured down to the Gulf Stream Marina prior to sunrise and were already talking with some fishermen that had driven down from other parts of the state.  Nathan and I decided we would walk down the beach and meet up with them.  Not long into the walk, we saw a golf cart stop on the beach to pick something up.  Curious, I walked over and discovered that the man driving the cart had stopped to pick up a tar ball.  When I asked him if I could take a picture of it, he told me that I could take a picture, but I had to hold it because he did not want to be photographed.  He handed it to me on a glove and drove away.  See the video we recorded below:

We met up with Kim and Terrell who had been hanging with the fishermen on the pier and talked with a group of fishermen that had just arrived and were getting ready to head out on their boat (video to come soon).  They didn’t seem bothered by the oil fallout and were happy to be back out fishing.

Terrell Clark on the Gulf Stream Marina

After our quick chat with them, we regrouped back at camp before heading out to the East side of the island where we quickly ran across a very poignant scenes that was a harsh reminder of the magnitude of what happened here in this region and just how much of an impact it has had on the lives of those in these communities.

The Soul of Grand Isle, LA

Earlier, I had made some phone calls to arrange a boat to take us out into the Gulf, including one to Captain D, who Josie told us about Friday evening. Before leaving on this trip, we knew we wanted to get out and see the water and shoreline from the perspective of the local fishermen.  Their stories have been particularly of interest to me personally after my conversations with a few of the local fishermen in Venice a month ago.

Since the oil spill, the fisherman have not been able to so what they love to do most, fish.  So basically, you either sign up in the Vessels of Opportunity program (work for BP) and hope to get picked, or you don’t work.  Some of the people that did sign up on the VOO program were not picked to be utilized.  After a few phone calls, we ran across one of them, Kenny from Bent Rod Offshore Fishing Charter.  We made it a point early on in the planning stages of the Sprit of the Gulf Coast expedition that we were going to try to support the local economies as much as possible, and since fishing is such a huge part of the economy, chartering a local boat and having the time to connect with one of the people on the front lines as he gave us a peek into his world was a no brainer.

There are limited areas of the Gulf that have been reopened to fishing in the last 2 weeks, so some fishermen are back out on the water.  But that doesn’t mean things are back to normal.  Kenny would normally have a full calendar of charters this time of year, but today we were able to call him up and get out on the water a couple of hours later.  In my next entry, I’ll describe our 3-hour trip out into the Gulf with our incredible tour guide, Kenny, along with video footage of oil sheen just offshore and barely detectable, but nonetheless present crude oil droplets. Stay tuned for more to follow soon.  In the meantime, here are a few photos I took on Flickr.

22

08 2010

Donations, Expenses, and Relief

We are 2 days away from the start of our expedition, and I wanted to take a couple of minutes to address the donations we are receiving and the expenses for the trip.  Check out a short video I posted this morning that addresses this topic.

We want to make sure that it is clear that our expenses for the trip are almost entirely local expenses, and the money is going straight into the local communities along the coast who have been dramatically impacted by the BP oil spill.  Every dollar that we spend with the local hotels, restaurants, cafes, fishermen, etc. provides much needed relief to the people in these communities.  These people rely largely on tourism and revenue from fishing in the Gulf for their survival, and they are struggling with the dramatic reduction in both tourism and fishing revenue as a result of this disaster.  These are the stories we want to capture and share with you, and these are the people that we are supporting by going down to the coast.  If you choose to make a donation to our effort, it will be going straight into these communities that have taken such a hit in recent months.

When we return, we will be planning the follow-up conference that will have its own set of expenses, but for now, all the donations are going down to the Gulf with us.  A special thank you to all those who have stepped forward and supported our efforts thus far.  We couldn’t do this without you!  Please visit the Supporters page on our site to see who has stepped up and provided their financial assistance.  We would love to add your name or your business to this list, so please consider making a small donation today.  Every dollar counts.

Thank you and we look forward to sharing these stories with you in the days ahead!

18

08 2010