The first mandatory five-hour class was held in Venice, La., on Friday afternoon. It has since been expanded to four other regional command centers in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, according to a BP spokesperson. The program hired 50 boats in Plaquemines Sunday and began loading booms while waiting for high winds to clear, said spokesperson Ayana McIntosh-Lee.
But rough weather was only one obstacle hampering the first weekend of the effort. Already worried about losing their livelihoods after Louisiana state officials closed all fishing east of the Mississippi River Friday, many fishermen were loath to sign any document that could potentially limit their ability to recoup losses from BP in the future.
“There was some enthusiasm for this at first, but not anymore,” says Paul Barrios of Plaquemines, who owns five boats serving as tenders for the oil industry. “A lot of it had to do with signing that piece of paper.”
Mr. Barrios, who attended a public meeting last Friday held by the parish government and BP preceding the first training class, said a number of fishermen he knows completed the training and are waiting to be called for work.