Starting in 1989, Wilson made it her mission to stop industrial pollution in the Lavaca-Matagorda-San Antonio Bay ecosystem, a breeding ground for Gulf of Mexico shellfish and finfish. Her efforts were extraordinary — they included several hunger strikes and an attempt to sink her own boat in protest.
She also endured having family members threatened, her dogs killed, her boat being sunk twice, and being picketed by 300 workers.
But her work resulted in two companies changing their wastewater discharge practices. Her efforts on behalf of her industry led us to name her an NF Highliner in 1996.
Fast forward to the present, with Gulf fishermen still reeling from effects of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster. The damage it has inflicted upon them, sea creatures, marine habitat and spawning grounds — not to mention coastal communities, seafood-related businesses and markets for the region’s seafood — is still being calculated.
The region’s fishermen remain angry and frustrated about the spill, subsequent cleanup operations and compensation programs set up to help mitigate their losses. So much so that the Associated Press reported this week that a group of gulf fishermen bought BP stock so that they could travel to London and be allowed to attend the BP shareholders meeting and express their dissatisfaction.
Wilson was among them.
“I am coming to articulate the anger of thousands of Gulf Coast residents whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed while the BP board continues to prosper,” Wilson told the AP.
Alas, according to the AP, although a sympathetic BP shareholder gave her a proxy vote, Wilson was locked out of the meeting.
One of the goals of the gulf fishermen attending the meeting was to keep the BP disaster in the media spotlight. Will the media still care once the April 20 anniversary passes?
Maybe they won’t. But if they don’t, it won’t stop gulf fishermen like Diane Wilson from continuing to fight for what they believe is right.