Oystering, particularly “tonging”, the way most Louisiana Oystermen do it, is brutal work. If I had to pick a hell to which to send the BP Executives, and their paid off political and government cronies – it would be tonging for Oysters on the Chesapeake Bay on an aluminum skiff in January and February. It is brutal, backbreaking work, which builds a kind of character you don’t often see in a Boardroom.
Another victim of the BP Oil disaster may well be black coastal communities along the lower Mississippi still recovering from the ravages of Katrina…
The marina of this Mississippi River Delta community usually teems with fishermen, oystermen and shrimpers. But the scene on Monday afternoon fell far short of that. Only a single crew could be seen filling crates with plump blue crabs freshly pulled from the bays to the east, which is among the few stretches of nearby water where oil hasn’t been found. Men sat on stools outside the marina’s shop, sipping cold beers in the humid air. “There’s nothing else to do,” says Shawn Encalade, 47, a boat welder, looking out at rows of marooned vessels.
The worst oil spill in American history is being measured in environmental and economic terms — especially given the threat it poses to Louisiana’s $2.4 billion seafood industry. But the cultural toll must also be considered. The disaster may signal the end of Louisiana towns like Phoenix and Point a la Hache, which hug the Mississippi River and comprise one of the state’s largest stretches of African-American fishing communities. Read the rest of this entry »