From: Jeffrey Jones, Reuters
Published June 16, 2010 06:00 AM

Gulf fishermen say Obama's words can't stop the oil

It's a familiar refrain in southern Louisiana since the oil spill began and after President Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday, it was voiced once again: there is little he can do until the oil stops gushing.

At the Black Velvet Oyster Bar and Grill in Buras, Louisiana, a popular watering hole for commercial and recreational fisherman, some patrons watched Obama's televised oval office speech intently. Others tuned out.

The crisis has hammered the Louisiana seafood industry, with large areas now closed to fishing.

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Fisherman James Swain watched the major televised speech on the response to the BP Plc oil spill up at the bar with his friend Ray Cepriano. They ordered up beers and shrimp.

"We're in a bind down here," Swain said. "Obama can't stop the well, and that's what they need to do."

Obama took a tough stance during his address, saying he will direct BP to set up an independently administered fund to compensate workers and business affected by the spill, and to mobilize more equipment.

Still, Cepriano, an oysterman, seemed just as frustrated after the speech as he was before it began.

Like many here, he relies on checks from the oil company and hopes for fishing grounds to open up. It does not make up for what was shaping up as a bumper season, some fishermen believe the best since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

"We went through Katrina. That was fine. We rebuilt," he said. "Now this -- this is not natural and it was done by BP."

Cepriano said he was unhappy with the government response, regardless of the president's tougher tone.

"Nothing's organized. None whatsoever ... they've got this really messed up," he said.

Article continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65F0QR20100616

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