POINTE AUX CHENES, La. -- There were tears on the bayou, as Pointe Aux Chenes residents Gilbert and Gayle Dardar threw the shrimp he just caught over the side of his boat. In the middle of his fishing trip, state officials closed the area, so they are afraid to sell or keep the catch.
"What are we going to do?" asked Gayle. "How are we going to survive?"
Gilbert and Gail wonder what the oil spill will do to the way of life that has supported the Dardar family for three generations.
"How am I going to pay my house note that I'm almost finished?" she said as she cried. "I'm going to lose everything."
So the Native Americans from South Louisiana met with their counterparts from Alaska to learn about the lasting effects of a major oil spill, and the news was scary.
"You're losing loved ones," said Patience Andersen-Faulkner, of the Prince William Sound, Alaska Regional Citizens Advisory Council. "Quite a few suicides. I bet you we have in Cordova one a year at least, if not two a year."
They shared a lunch of shrimp and crabs as they shared news about oil still polluting Alaska from Exxon Valdez, lost wildlife species, and the impact on fishing there.
"The times are very, very tough," Anderson-Faulkner said. "First of all, we have not got our herring back, 21 years later. So will they get their fishing back here? Well, we just went out for shrimp for the first time in about 17 years."
"It could be the end of fishing in this area, all the types of fishing, the shrimp and the oysters and the fin-fish, and therefore the loss of their culture," added Dr. Shirley Laska, of the UNO Center For Hazard Response and Technology.
Just this morning they discovered oil in the marshes just four miles away from here. It was terribly frightening to find it so close to home, so they met with BP officials to ask for help.
"We don't have one inch of boom anywhere along our inner lakes, not one inch of boom," Gayke Dardar exclaimed. "We rode out there. There is oil, we should have some boom."
"We're here to supply them with some boom," Nathan Chiava of British Petroleum responded. "We'll have some out here tomorrow, so they can go out and protect their tribal lands."
But the biggest worry for fishermen is whether they can stay afloat financially until the area recovers, and that is something their counterparts from Alaska understand.
"They'll get their way of life back, but it won't be what they're used to," Patience Andersen-Faulker said.