200 fishermen offer boats to help stave off threat to their livelihood

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by Bill Capo / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on April 29, 2010 at 5:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 29 at 5:46 PM

"I would say that this is worse than an atomic bomb," said Yscloskey fisherman Ricky Robin.

Ricky Robin is a ninth generation commercial fisherman, and the potential impact of the oil spill makes his emotions boil over.

"I can't even talk no more to tell you the truth. It got me up here. I'm really upset. It's really heartbreaking." 

Ricky is rushing to prepare his boat for a weekend shrimping trip after the state opened a special shrimping season in advance of the oil spill.

"We might better go salvage a few of these shrimp, put them on the market, because it might be the last ones we get around here." 

But Ricky is also preparing his boat for another use that could be more urgent.

"I'm ready to go shrimping, but I been trained for pulling booms fifteen years ago, a few fishermen, and I'm ready to help." 

Many of the parish's 330 commercial fishermen jammed the St. Bernard Council Chamber, ready to go to work to fight the spread of the oil spill, and help clean up the damage. Over 200 offered their boats, docks, and other aid.

"We want to be hired to come clean it up," said George Baracich of the United Commercial Fishermen's Association.  "We have boats, we have knowledge, we know the estuary, we know where we're at, and we're not scared of working fifteen or twenty hours a day as a time. That's what we do when we're catching shrimp." 

St. Bernard Council Members and the parish president called a state of emergency, and called on help from Baton Rouge and Washington.

"So that we can at least have an attempt at mobilizing some state assets as well as possibly some federal assets to help us protect our shorelines," said St. Bernard Council ChairmanWayne Landry.

St. Bernard fishermen are praying that the leak is stopped quickly, but worry it is already too late to avoid a catastrophe that could change lives.

"If it kills the estuary, it'll be five or ten years," said George Baracich.

"It is the issue of saving our lands, our wetlands for our grandkids," concluded Ricky Robin.  "We planting seeds, you know, and I'm just hooked to the land, and I can't stand to see this happen like Alaska. And here it is on us, and you know it is only days away."

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