National Fisherman

BP's general counsel said this week that he's confident that the company will escape the harshest level of civil penalties for the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It's not surprising that he would argue against the notion that the oil giant was grossly negligent for the spill, which poured 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. The company hopes to keep its liability from being quadrupled under the Clean Water Act, which is what a finding of gross negligence would trigger. The difference is huge: $4.5 billion for simple negligence or more than $17 billion for gross negligence.

With the civil trial before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier set to begin Monday, it is important to remember what led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the company's spotty track record on safety. None of BP's PR efforts can change that.

The federal government's most conclusive report on the Deepwater Horizon explosion -- which left 11 men dead -- found that BP's failure to assess the risks of its Macondo well and the company's drive to cut corners at the expense of safety were the main causes.

Significantly, the Joint Investigation Team of the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the Coast Guard was the only non-criminal probe of the disaster with subpoena power. That allowed investigators to question, under oath, a large number of witnesses -- many in public hearings conducted in Kenner -- and to have access to extensive records from the companies involved.

Members of the joint investigative team clearly believed that BP personnel sacrificed safety in order to save time and money at the company's Macondo well. The group's September 2011 report noted that at the time of the blowout, the project to drill Macondo was behind schedule and $58 million over budget. The document included a chart keying on seven critical decisions in the design of the well and the drilling process -- all made by BP managers.

Read the full story at the Times-Picayune>>

Inside the Industry

The anti-mining group Salmon Beyond Borders expressed disappointment and dismay last week at Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s announcement that he has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

This came just days after his administration asked members of his newly-formed Transboundary Rivers Citizens Advisory Work Group to provide comment on a Draft Statement of Cooperation associated with Transboundary mining.


NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.

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