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In Response to Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster, BP Enlists Freelance Fishermen to Aid in Cleanup

May 5, 2010 – Scrambling for a solution to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, British Petroleum (BP) has enacted a new plan called the Vessel of Opportunity program, which aims to employ fishermen to help the company protect the coastline from the oil spill. According to reports, the company will pay them to take out their own boats and deploy containment booms along the coast, provided they complete a five hour safety and hazardous materials training course first.

Due to a mandatory liability waiver contained in the contract, Vessel of Opportunity is being viewed by many potential freelancers with distrust and skepticism. If signed, fishermen could forfeit their rights to file a claim against BP for economic losses they’ve suffered from the spill, though BP denies this claim. There have also been complaints that the company is offering minimal compensation for the job.

Already faced with the prospect of losing their livelihoods after Louisiana state officials closed all fishing east of the Mississippi River last Friday, many fishermen were hesitant to sign anything that could potentially eliminate their right to recover loses from the company in the future.

“There was some enthusiasm for this at first, but not anymore,” says Paul Barrios of Plaquemines, who owns five boats serving as tenders for the oil industry. “A lot of it had to do with signing that piece of paper.”

“I think BP is doing this mostly to get some of the fishermen off their back,” Barrios said, adding that many of the fishermen are not well equipped for the operation. “Most of their boats are not insured. Most of their boats are made out of fiberglass, which isn’t good for rough or shallow water, and most don’t have a large enough work deck for doing that kind of work.”

Do I have an Oil Spill Lawsuit?

The Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus exclusively on the representation of plaintiffs in environmental catastrophe lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation throughout the Gulf Coast and currently accepting new oil spill cases in all affected states.

If you or somebody you know has suffered an economic loss related to your Gulf Coast business or coastal property, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing an oil spill lawsuit and we can help.  We are currently accepting cases and/or claims in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

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