Jul 14, 2010 6:35 PM by Melissa Hawkes

New Program Will Hopefully Put Fishermen Back to Work

State officials are hoping to lure thousands of fishermen who aren't already working for BP's Vessels of Opportunity program back onto the water.

Harlon Pearce, a chairman for the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, said "We want to give them an ability to go back to work and pay them a bonus for doing that."

Pearce is the brains behind "Back to the Docks"a program that will pay fisherman 30 percent more than the average price for their 2009 catch.

The paycheck will replace a BP claim check.

He said, "The guys not working get 100 percent of a claim, so put them to work. You can't look at it like spending 30 percent. You have to look at it like saving 70 percent."

Some fishermen say the program isn't realistic.

Commercial fisherman, George Romero, said "thirty percent of last year is less than what we are currently getting at the shop."

Fisherman said that even though they'd love to be back out in the water working, there are barely any fish to catch. So, they'd rather just collect a claim check from BP.

Shrimper, Jimmie Dupre, said "I'm not going to go and catch anything, so I'll get 30 percent of nothing."

Romero added, "The time for us to go out and fish and make money has passed right now."

Pearce said he's pushing for 80 percent of the waters to be open by next week, by then he's hoping BP will approve "Back to the Docks".



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