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Tourism pitch, first family visit may harm Panhandle fishermen’s claims

by Dara Kam | August 17th, 2010

Promotions touting tar-free Northwest Florida beaches and clear Gulf waters may hurt Panhandle fishermen’s ability to get the emergency six-month payments the new oil disaster claims czar is promising will be easy to get come Monday.

Ken Feinberg will take over BP’s troubled claims system at 12:01 a.m. Monday. Under Feinberg’s new process, individuals or businesses filing claims will get paid for six months of lost revenues instead of BP’s current month-to-month compensation.

Feinberg told fishermen today they may not be eligible for six full months of emergency payments because the oil well is capped, water closures for fishing have been lifted and tourism officials are promoting the cleanliness of Florida waters and beaches.

Even the first family’s weekend trip to the region – aimed at luring visitors to the region – may not have been a good thing for the fishermen.

“Now I see the president’s coming down. I see they opened up the shrimp grounds yesterday. The fishing grounds are open. I’m reading in the newspaper people are returning to the Gulf,” Feinberg, in Pensacola for the second time in a week, told an audience of about 100 at the Pensacola Civic Center.

Feinberg said it appeared to him that things were getting better in the Panhandle despite a persistent refrain from mom-and-pop hoteliers, restaurant owners and fishermen, whose plight was recently worsened when BP shut down the “vessels of opportunity” program that paid them to aid recovery efforts.

“What do you men you can’t fish for six months? Your compatriots are fishing now. I’m reading it in the newspaper. So the new wrinkle…that I didn’t confront two weeks ago or two months ago is what is the impact of the spill as every day I read in the newspaper things are improving.Thank goodness,” Feinberg said.
“I hear what the president says. I’m watching on TV. The beaches look fabulous.”

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One Response to “Tourism pitch, first family visit may harm Panhandle fishermen’s claims”

  1. Unreal Says:

    Mr. Feinberg shouldn’t believe everything he reads in the newspapers. It is sometimes unfortunate that reporters can only report what is being said instead of what is really happening.

    The facts are that the oil is not gone from the Gulf and the fisheries are not clean.

    The fact is that government agencies from the Feds down are starving for money. They will say anything to try to create any little bit of revenue they can, and they are selling out our futures to try to get some income now.
    This comes from their decades of irresponsible spending.

    At least we have the University of Georgia and the University of South Florida doing some independent studies showing that the oil is not gone. We need more independent scientists to publish their findings that what the government and BP are saying is a flat out lie.

    This fisherman isn’t eating any Gulf seafood and I live on the water.

    Mr. Obama swimming in a protected bay instead of the Gulf while trying to show America that the Gulf is clean, borders on criminal misrepresentation.

    God help us all.

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