Louisiana Coastal ErosionBP oil spillNational Wildlife Federationbp finesCoastal Erosion
Capt. Ryan Lambert, owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras, La. and spoke with scientists from and with the National Wildlife Federation in a press teleconference at 10 a.m. CT today.
The group was speaking out today because NWF has just published a report, Restoring a Degraded Gulf of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Three Years After the Gulf Oil Disaster." NWF is pushing for BP -- currently on trial to determine whether the company was grossly negligent -- to have to pay the maximum billions for its blight on the region
Lambert, who said he's been in business 33 years, was particularly compelling when he said he'd never seen anything like what he saw after the spill. And today, the picture remains bleak, especially in terms of drastic coastal erosion.
"I have a different perspective 'cuz I live it every day," said the captain. "We could see all the dead animals and oil."
He said they went 30 months without seeing a speckled trout until Hurricane Isaac hit last fall.
Mother Nature has a way to clean up; the tidal surge made the water quality better for fish... but it brought oil into the marsh even more, and now we're really paying for what happened.
What does that mean?
Over a year ago, coastal erosion and restoration officials were saying Louisiana had lost something the size of Rhode Island. Now, Capt. Lambert lamented, the accelerated clip means potential inhabitability:
"If we cannot heal these fresh wounds, then we can't live here anymore."
Just this morning, he said, he got a new National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) map that shows red-colored areas where marsh has been lost. The entire map, he said, "is literally red."
So what I see three years later [following the BP oil spill] is when we got a place oiled, when we fished around these places, you could see them all black with oil. When you go back [though], there are total islands gone, large areas of marsh gone. It's taking away the vegetation. Every time you get a tidal surge we are losing marsh at a more rapid rate than I've seen in all my years here.
Inkley also told reporters today that,
This year, the dolphin deaths have remained above average, [as they have] every month since the spill began. In January and February 2013 alone, the infant deaths were at six times the historical rate.
Inkley urged too that while results of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment report were not in yet, it's reasonable to link the unusual [dolphin] mortality event (actually with the acronym UME by NOAA) to the spill.
Yet as bad as the dolphin deaths are, Lambert wanted reporters to take away the message today that without the marshes, without a healthy ecosystem, many more species have and will continue to suffer and die.