“They have activated freaking ski boats while my husband, who has been in the charter business for two decades, sits idle,” cries a Pensacola woman.
“We have these weekend warriors taking away jobs from those who fish for a living. Every day I see the boat trailers fill the parking lot as the pleasure boats get their assignments for the day while the commercial fleet sits idle. This is like stealing. These jokers are taking money away from those who are trying to feed their families,” complains a Biloxi charter boat captain.An investigation by Rick Outzen
, publisher/editor of Independent News
in Pensacola writing for The Daily Beast
, finds that in some areas along the Gulf Coast owners of pleasure boats — wealthy, professional boat and yacht owners who use their vessels for occasional weekend fishing excursions with family and friends — are getting a majority of contracts for British Petroleum’s Vessels of Opportunity program while the vessels of commercial charter operators and fishermen sit idle. The program contracts private boats to help in the clean-up, transporting supplies and other assignments connected to the Gulf oil spill.
BP has inked roughly 1,900 Vessels of Opportunity contracts ranging from $1,200 to $3,000 per day. But Outzen’s probe finds that in some counties in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, a majority of those deals are with the so-called “weekend warriors.” However, the report finds that a consensus among the commercial boat operators is that the disparity is the result of incompetence on BP’s part and not a conspiracy to blackball the charter captains and fishermen. A BP spokesman tells Outzen the company is aware of the problem and taking steps to remedy it.
The report comes amid complaints from fishermen hired along the Gulf Coast by BP to clean up the oil polluting the coast that they haven’t been paid since they signed contracts with the oil giant, many of them going on a month.