The Southern Shrimp Alliance criticized major elements of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility’s (GCCF) proposed methodology to govern how individuals who have been economically injured as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill would be compensated in exchange for releasing and waiving any claims that he or she may have against BP and all other potentially responsible parties.
In its February 16, 2011 comments to the GCCF regarding “Announcement of Payment Options, Eligibility and Substantiation Criteria, and Final Payment Methodology,” the Southern Shrimp Alliance raised concerns about specific issues that affect the shrimp fishery, such as the assumptions of when the shrimp fishery will recover ecologically and economically from the oil spill, penalties for fishermen who returned to work as early as possible, and inequitable treatment of shrimp fishermen.
“The methodology assumes an extremely optimistic prediction about when the shrimp fishery is expected to fully recover from the spill,” stated John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “In addition, the methodology unfairly penalizes those in the industry who returned to work when they were able. It is very discouraging to see that the methodology fails to treat fairly and equitably those in the shrimp industry who have been economically harmed by the BP oil spill.”
The methodology is based on one researcher’s opinion about when the Gulf will recover from the oil spill. The study, which was paid for by BP and not peer-reviewed, has been criticized by many in the scientific community.
In addition to being predicated on an overly optimistic forecast of the Gulf’s – and particularly, the shrimp crop’s – recovery, the methodology unfairly penalizes those in the industry who returned to work when they were able. In reaction to reports that individuals were not returning to work in 2010 because they believed their payments from the GCCF would be greater if they did not work and, thus, could demonstrate greater losses, GCCF officials denied this supposition and urged everyone to return to work as soon as they were able. Nevertheless, the proposed methodology severely penalizes those who went back to work and rewards those who did not.
The methodology also is fundamentally flawed because it would compensate shrimp fishermen in the same manner as hotel workers, restaurant employees, or those in the retail industry. While the GCCF rightfully acknowledged that the oyster industry will suffer significant ecological impacts, it inexplicably ignored the fact that the shrimp industry will as well. The ecological impacts on all fisheries far outweigh any negative impacts facing industries on dry land, and the compensation for all fisheries industries should reflect that.
“The Southern Shrimp Alliance has been working for several months in an effort to educate GCCF officials about the shrimp industry and the likely impact that the oil spill will have on it,” stated Williams. “We will continue to press GCCF officials to treat individuals in the shrimp industry in a fair and equitable manner, and to ensure that the GCCF is accountable, first and foremost, to the victims of the oil spill, not those who caused it.”
SSA (shrimpalliance.com) is an alliance of the U.S. warmwater wild shrimp fishery from eight states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.