Commercial fishing fleet cleanup crew now working for BP

Jun 14th, 2010 | By | Category: Top Story

The fleet of commercial fishing boats that has been working to defend the parish’s fragile wetlands from the BP oil spill has been absorbed into the oil spill response company BP hired to clean and contain the oil.

Parish officials announced at a meeting Sunday, June 6 that the fleet of local fishermen would be taken on with United States Environmental Services/United States Maritime Services as the St. Bernard Fishing Vessel Fleet Response.

Representatives from BP, the U.S. Coast Guard and St. Bernard Parish oil response operations briefed the fleet on the transition Sunday. Parish President Craig Taffaro and St. Bernard’s Incident Commander for Oil Spill Operations David Dysart gave the fleet a visual presentation showing how each vessel will assigned work based on its ability to do certain tasks. Officials then gave the fishermen the opportunity to choose which aspect of the oil clean-up/response they would be willing to join. St. Bernard Council Members Wayne Landry, Fred Everhardt and Kenneth Henderson attended the meeting as well.

The Recovery Group will be used to conduct skimming operations near shore to prevent the oil from getting to marsh and land. This will consist of Skimmers and Tow Boats. Skimmers must be a shrimp boat larger than 50 feet capable of trawling, which will be equipped with skimming equipment. The tow must be larger than 35 feet and will drag a single piece of boom between the skimmer and itself to divert the oil into the skimmer.

The Recon Group will be required to be on water for 48 consecutive hours and will continually search for oil in their assigned location. This vessel will typically be 40 feet or larger.

The Rapid Assessment Teams Group will be rapidly deployed at the sighting of oil to send the U.S. Coast Guard Assessment teams to review and determine the appropriate course of action. These particular vessels should be fast moving and able to conduct night operations and quarter. This vessel will be 24 feet or longer, capable of traveling at speeds of at least 40 miles per hour.

The Protection Group will deploy and maintain boom. Larger vessels, 30 feet or longer, will haul boom and supervise the placement of boom and act as a staging base for repair and maintenance operations on the water. The smaller vessels in this group, 18 feet or longer, will deploy, validate and maintain boom.

The Logistics Group will be used to resupply the entire fleet and jack-up barges in the area of operation. This group’s responsibility will be expanded to tow the fuel barges to support the Recovery Group. The larger boats in this group will be 30 feet or longer, smaller boats will be 18 feet or longer. Both size vessels need to be capable of hauling supplies.

The Tar Ball Test Group will be used to locate and detect underwater oil passing through the area of operation. This vessel must be 30 feet or longer and able to perform trawling operations with detection supplies.

A representative from USES/USMS explained that the cutoff work day for pay is Wednesday, and payments will be made available the following Friday. The fishermen who attended received proper documents so they can participate in the USES/USMS St. Bernard Fishing Vessel Fleet Response.

“We are committed to staying engaged and on top of our commercial fishing fleet continuing to serve a vital role in the oil spill response,” Taffaro said. “We welcome the partnership with USES as a local company for this event.”

“The meeting went well,” Council member Kenny Henderson said, “and it’s important that we get everybody to work.”

“I hope this meeting  will produce enough work to keep all the commercial fishermen in St. Bernard Parish working as we face the potential catastrophic devastation to our fisheries,” Council Member Wayne Landry said. “Everyone in the Parish is working hard with BP and federal agencies to assist us in our endeavor.”

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