National Fisherman


BP on Monday renewed its request for a federal judge to temporarily halt the payment of millions of dollars of economic claims stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, charging it has found new evidence of improper payment of claims by an employee at a Mobile, Ala., claims office and of apparent conflicts of interest involving attorneys handling appeals in the payment process.

"These new incidents demonstrate a fundamental lack of oversight or internal controls," said a motion filed by the company. "When BP first asked for a preliminary injunction, it had compelling evidence of one scheme only. Now, the evidence shows the existence of 'a systemic or widespread problem' with the (Court Supervised Settlement Program)."

The motion filed with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said a temporary pause in the payment program, which is averaging more than $100 million in approved claims a week, according to BP, "serves the public interest because preventing even the risk of fraudulent payments is in the public's interest and sends a clear message to future litigants that misconduct in settlement programs will not be tolerated."

In mid-July, BP filed its first request for an emergency preliminary injunction, arguing that two of three top lawyers involved in the settlement program "apparently intervened" in the claims process -- and due to the tremendous amount of money involved in the payouts -- the court should grant the injunction to prevent potentially wrongful claims payments.

Barbier denied the motion after BP was unable to produce any evidence of fraudulent claims.

Read the full story at the Times-Picayune>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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