"Fishermen Fear for Livelihoods as Gulf Focus Shifts"

"NEW ORLEANS -- US spill chief Thad Allen failed Thursday to reassure desperate fishermen about their Gulf of Mexico oil clean-up jobs, while BP began the legal wrangling in a massive civil trial.

As engineers prepared next week's vital operations to permanently kill the capped BP well, Allen met with parish presidents and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in New Orleans to discuss how to safeguard local jobs going forward.

With little oil now floating in the Gulf, there are fears the popular 'Vessels of Opportunity' program that employs fishing boats to skim crude off the surface of the sea might have to be scrapped.

Allen pledged to redeploy as many skippers as possible to other tasks, but could give no firm indication of how many of the 1,500 boats would still be working in the Gulf after next month.

'Obviously as we transition into a point where there's not the threat of a spill, the involvement of Vessels of Opportunity is going to necessarily change,' he said after the meeting."

Matt Davis reports for AFP July 29, 2010.

Source: AFP, 07/30/2010