Oil Spill Has Fishermen Worried About Livelihoods Oil oozed toward shore in Louisiana on Friday, moving closer to the state's wetlands and threatening the livelihoods of fishermen in the community of Venice. NPR's Cheryl Corley talks with residents about the potential impact of the spill.
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Oil Spill Has Fishermen Worried About Livelihoods

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Oil Spill Has Fishermen Worried About Livelihoods

Oil Spill Has Fishermen Worried About Livelihoods

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

Off the Louisiana coast today, stormy weather and high winds have hampered efforts to contain a massive oil spill. The slick is fueled by a nonstop flow of oil gushing from the sea floor, and it's churning toward environmentally sensitive marshes.

At a news conference at the Louisiana command center, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar urged BP to work harder, faster and smarter to cap the well.

Secretary KEN SALAZAR (Department of the Interior): I've asked other companies from across the oil and gas industry to bring their global expertise to the situation to make sure that no idea that is worth pursuing is not pursued.

BLOCK: NPR's Cheryl Corley is in Venice, Louisiana. That's not far from the mouth of the Mississippi River. Cheryl, what have you been hearing there today?

CHERYL CORLEY: Well, people are really worried, Melissa, as you might expect, and they're also really resigned to the idea that this oil spill is definitely going to hit the shoreline sometime very soon.

This is a community that really knows both sides of the problem here, people who typically work in the fishing industry or in the oil industry. So there is some empathy for both sides of this problem. But even so for those in the fishing industry, there is just this trepidation that they're going to be struggling to survive.

So as a result, many of them had just been determined to get in touch with the cleanup efforts in some kind of way. And today, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the state is really just doing everything it can to protect the fragile coastline here from the oil slick, but it's still just a very, very dangerous situation.

Governor BOBBY JINDAL (Republicans, Louisiana): I'm certainly worried that the booms that's currently deployed are not effective. The areas will be impacted first by this oil spill, therefore, are critical and fragile coastal sites.

These next few days are critical. That's why we must do everything necessary, everything possible to protect our coasts.

BLOCK: And, Cheryl, what more have you been hearing from fishermen that you've spoken with today?

CORLEY: Well, there is this massive meeting today that was held in a high school gym, where people were filling out applications so they could help clean up the gulf. There has been a lot of concern that it's been out-of-state people who've been part of the cleanup efforts so far while the shrimpers and the fishermen here are the ones who stand to lose the most if they can't go out in their boats and do their jobs.

So there has been some negotiations with BP to make sure that local people are used and that local resources are used. So they planned this meeting today. Originally, it was going to be held at a fire station, but it was moved to this local high school, and there were cars parked, I would say, for at least a mile around the school.

The parking lot was full. The auditorium was full. There were still people outside of the school filling out the applications. You know, this was the first step in the process to turn this oil spill from potential devastation for a lot of these people, loss of work into something different, taking part in the cleanup.

I talked to one man, and he just said there are a lot of hungry people out there. There's the feeling that as a hurricane approaches and as the fishermen - people have to go by their senses, and they know that something has to be done because their livelihood is at stake.

BLOCK: Yeah. Now, would these fishermen be working with BP on the cleanup?

CORLEY: Well, that's the initial plan, as I understand. But I believe the details are still being worked out. What I learned at this meeting is, you know, they were talking about, as they filled out the applications, you know, they wanted to know what kind of boats people had, you know, what kind of equipment they use. And the thought is that maybe they could be matched up in some sort of way to do certain types of cleaning and cleanup.

I must say, Melissa, that with the number of people who really came out to this application process, it was pretty amazing. And, you know, I think the whole coordination effort is going to be something to contend with.

BLOCK: Okay, Cheryl, thanks very much.

CORLEY: You're welcome.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Cheryl Corley in Venice, Louisiana. That's in Plaquemines Parish.

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