Stop BP From Starving Fishermen for Final Releases

  • by: GO FISH Alliance
  • recipient: U.S President, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives
We, the people of Gulf fishing communities and those in solidarity with us, are petitioning our elected representatives to stop BP from starving fishermen for final releases. A final release in this agreement drops spill-related claims against BP and all potential defendants. Alleviate the Gulf fishing communities' prolonged distress caused by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill by advocating for the following:

(1) BP issue immediate and fair interim payments and insert a re-opener clause in the GCCF Waiver and Release Form that confirms BP's continuing responsibility to pay if a claimant suffers greater losses from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, thereby protecting Gulf Coast fishing communities in case BP's claims of no long-term damage to fisheries prove false.

(1) BP fund, or order its agent Feinberg to fund, a billion dollar "Subsistence Use Fund," as a gesture of good faith, to be used to pay for the damage BP caused to subsistence use of our fisheries, a Gulf Way of Life.

Last year, on April 20, 2010, the Macondo oil well exploded within 50 miles of the Louisiana coast -- killing11 workers, injuring 17 people, and subsequently spilling over 200 million gallons of crude oil into our Gulf habitat. It took nearly 100 days to cap the oil well, but the mess isn't over.

BP and its agent Ken Feinberg continue to delay paying legitimate "interim" claims -- driving hardworking people into economic desperation and endangering the Gulf Coast way of life. Rather than meet its moral and legal obligations, BP is exploiting this desperation to extract full and final releases of all rights in exchange for minimal compensation. These predatory practices must be stopped; help us stop them.

i. Subsistence Use Is Gulf Coast Way of Life. For generations, our coastal communities and fishing families have depended on seafood caught in clean coastal waters for subsistence. This seafood feeds our families, forms the heart of our community gatherings, and is used to barter for other life necessities. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill has destroyed this non-commercial, beautiful way of life.

ii. The Law Requires Losses To Be Compensated Without A Release. The Oil Pollution Act requires polluters like BP to provide prompt and full compensation for losses, including interim payments and loss of subsistence use, in order to alleviate the distress caused by oil spills like the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Oil Pollution Act specifically requires that compensation be paid without releasing future rights because we cannot know how bad the damage will ultimately be.

iii. BP Deems Our Gulf Way of Life and Feinberg's Promise Worthless. On January 27, 2011, BP's Feinberg approached Ve Nguyen before the U.S. Senate Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and promised to pay the $6,000 he demonstrated for emergency loss of subsistence use. As of April 20, 2011, Feinberg has still NOT paid Ve Nguyen for loss of subsistence use. Yet BP pays Feinberg nearly $60,000 for every single day that he delays and refuses to pay back what our Gulf fishing communities have lost.

iv. BP Delays Payment to Force People to Give Up Their Rights. The GCCF's complete lack of subsistence payments, the mere 7,134 interim payments made to date, and misinformation regarding spill impacts are driving claimants to desperation, thereby allowing BP to coerce more than 116,000 of our community members into signing a final release - giving up all of their rights in exchange for a token quick payment.

v. Must Act Now Before BP Robs All Gulf Fishing Communities. If BP's claims process fails to promptly and fully pay Ve Nguyen, Thien Nguyen, and Phuong Nguyen for loss of subsistence use and BP refuses to reconsider the coercive releases its agent Feinberg has extracted, then all Gulf fishing communities can expect to be robbed of compensation for a lost way of life.

BP purports to act in accordance with the Oil Pollution Act, but BP's complete failure to pay Loss of Subsistence Use claims for a year since the tragic Macondo well explosion is blatant defiance of the law. BP's tactics, through Feinberg, to obtain final releases of all claims defies the law, is unjust, and must end now.

In Solidarity,

GO FISH (Gulf Organized Fisheries In Solidarity & Hope) is a coalition of member organizations across the Gulf Coast that banded together after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to advocate for promoting the rights of fishermen, restoring the fisheries, and preserving fishing community culture.

Commercial Fishermen of Bayou La Batre
South Bay Community Alliance
Association of Family Fishermen
Louisiana Association of Family Fishermen
Louisiana Bayoukeeper
Louisiana Oystermen Association
Louisiana Shrimp Association
Pointe Aux Chien Indian Tribe
United Commercial Fishermen's Association
United Louisiana Vietnamese American Fisherfolks
Florida Association of Family Fishermen
Mississippi Association of Family Fishermen

Asian American for Change
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans
Federation of Southern Cooperatives Rural Training and Research Center
Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery Partnership
MQVN Community Development Corporation
Step Coalition
Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association
Waltzer Wiygul Law Firm
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