Commercial Charter Fishing Vessels BP Settlement Debate

“Getting thrown under the Bus not once but twice”

in the new proposed BP Settlement

In the latest published proposed settlement Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 we have learned that Charter Boat vessels are being treated unfairly while other commercial vessels are receiving fair and adequate settlements.

There are two major injustices to address:

Commercial Charter Fishing Vessels BP Settlement

VoO Should Not Be Deducted In BP Settlement

First …at the beginning of the oil spill BP authorized meetings, to recruit vessel owners for the vessels of opportunity program, which were held along the Gulf Coast at many marinas and town halls. BP told all applicants ( commercial shrimpers, commercial finfish fisherman, commercial charter and recreational vessel owners) that if they agreed to work in the VoO program any earnings would not be deducted from any claim they might have. Also to confirm this agreement BP attorney A.T. Chenault wrote a letter dated May 3th, 2010 “ Lastly we confirm that BP will not offset payments to vessel owners or other volunteers against claims they might have.”

After reading the 1,122 page settlement we have discovered the following: Commercial charter boat vessels will have to pay back 33% of their prior VoO earnings plus 50% of the unpaid VoO settlement payment. ( Note: 33% represents approximately 100% net profits after subtracting taxes and expenses for most vessels)

Recreational Vessels without a loss of income will get to keep 100% of prior VoO earning plus 100% of their VoO Settlement payment .Shrimpers, Oystermen, Finfish Fisherman will also receive 100%. of VoO settlement plus get to keep 100% of their earnings.

Commercial Charter vessels worked side by side each day along this group of fisherman attempting to protect our beaches and wildlife. They each did the same job and took the same risk being exposed to the dangers caused by the oil spill. Now two years after the fact BP now wants to reduce the charter boat’s settlement by deducting VoO earnings.

GCCF refused BP’s directive to deduct VoO earnings from Charter Vessels. Mr. Feinberg knew this was not fair ,and not the agreement, and refused to subtract the earnings in their September 23, 2010 Written Notice.

BP made commitments to the VoO participants verbally and in a written confirmation by their attorneys in a attempt to engage professional captains and vessel owners into signing this contract. After the work was completed and the oil well plugged BP is taking the position of wanting their VoO money back. Not all monies only the commercial charter boats money back.

All groups should be exempt from the VoO deduction not just a select few.

Commercial Charter Fishing Get Same Multiplier As T-Shirt Shop

Secondly, Commercial Charter boat vessels share the same natural resources as the commercial finfish Vessels. Both groups share the same risk if there is a negative impact from the oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico fisheries. The Risk Transfer Premium is the amount paid to a Claimant for any and all alleged damage, including potential future injuries, damages or losses not currently known, which later can manifest itself or develop, arising out of, due to, resulting from, or relating in any way to the BP oil spill.
The RTP for a commercial finfish vessel is 6 times their loss while Commercial Charter Vessels are 2.5 times their losses which is the same a T-Shirt shop on the beach. If a negative impact happens both fishing groups will suffer equally and will no longer be able to continue their businesses.. Just a 10% negative impact on Red Snapper and several other species could shut down those fisheries indefinitely.

If the risk is equal then the RTP should be equal.

How can this settlement be a good and fair one if the Commercial Charter boats opt out?

This settlement does not MAKE IT RIGHT as BP’s commercials had stated… BP needs to stand behind their promises and commitments to all the people of the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Settlement for the Seafood People Not Charter Fishing Boats.

If you are in the seafood settlement the VoO payments will not be deducted from your income as it says.

No other reductions to the compensation amount under the Seafood Compensation Program will be taken, including
compensation received for work in the VoO Program” page 382

According to the letter from the BP attorney no VoO boat should offset please see the letter here.

BP Attorney letter VoOBP attorney VoO