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Fishermen says BP oil spill changed the industry forever

Updated: Apr. 20, 2020 at 5:33 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - When the Deepwater Horizon explosion happened on April 20, 2010, fishermen across Southeast Louisiana had no idea what was headed their way.

“When it happened, I guess we were all devastated, but we thought the oil would never impact the industry from that far away,” says Brad Robin.

Months later, the oil impacted the fishing industry like never before.

Oysterman Brad Robin says the loss was greater than he could have imagined.

“The reefs that we have, we call them our farms, have been in our family for a hundred years. They never changed location, but they’re still not producing. On the east side of the river, probably 60 percent is still not growing oysters from the Horizon,” says Robin.

Robin says he worries about the future of the industry.

“The strongest will survive in the this mess, but knowing exactly what went onto our reefs, we really don’t know. We go out there and fish our reefs, but we still cannot get them to grow. We don’t know. We really don’t know,” says Robin.

While the fishermen suffered, businesses suffered too when people worried Louisiana seafood was no longer safe.

“It was just so much uncertainty of what was ok to eat and what was not ok to eat,” says Jeff Pohlmann.

At Today’s Ketch, owner Jeff Pohlmann said he was forced to buy seafood from outside Louisiana.

“It was scary for us because we never ventured out the way we had to do for the spill,” says Pohlmann.

“We’ve got to let the public know that the oysters are safe, but the farmers are trying everything they can in their culture. The scientist are coming in and asking what can we do to make these oysters grow. We really don’t know,” says Robin.

“It’s very challenging, and I’m almost to the point where I’m challenged out,” says Robert Campo.

Marina Owner and fisherman Robert Campo points out, it’s been one hit after another for the industry, from Hurricane Katrina, the oil spill and then the Bonne Carre Spillway over and over again.

He says it’s the oil spill, though, that he believes killed his oyster grounds.

“These reefs are dead. There’s nothing left. It’s dead and there’s dead shells,” says Campo.

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