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Letter from Bob Jones, Southwestern Fisheries Organisation, Gulf Coast, U.S.

'The Pipe' The Film

This is a response I got in answer to a general invitation I put out to people involved in the fishing industry on the US Gulf Coast, to come to Ireland to attend the premier of ‘The Pipe’, so that they may share their experiences of the BP oil spill on their livelihoods, and generally contribute to the wider global debate on the relationship between large Oil Companies and local communities.


Thank you for the information concerning Shell Oil Company’s heavy-handed treatment of Irish citizens who don’t want Shell’s pipeline on their property. Shell Oil, like BP and other members of the international oil cartel, is a bully. They do whatever it takes to get their way and are very good at it. That’s the story the film tells and I can’t wait to see it.

The United States is on the horns of a dilemma. If we don’t have oil production to create a variety of petroleum products our economy comes to a halt bringing utter chaos and then civil unrest. No fuel, no jobs, no country. There are no short term solutions to replace our dependence on oil and we wonder if the oil cartel will ever let Congress enact a modern energy policy.

There are safer ways to drill for oil but it takes away from the bottom line and money trumps safety. The oil industry must be required to adhere to best management practices established JOINTLY, in a totally transparent process, with academicians, engineers and political leaders. A rig in violation should be shut down until safety violations are fixed, not given a slap on the wrist and a small fine. One thing is for sure, the oil companies must never again be allowed to write the government’s rules and regulations. The greed factor is just too big for oil corporations to resist.

I was at a public hearing in Pensacola, Florida several decades ago on water pollution, because citizens were extremely concerned that discharges from manufacturing plants up river were killing oysters, crabs, shrimp and fouling the wetlands these critters depend on for survival. An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing officer told the crowd, “A CEO said in his testimony a few minutes ago that you (citizens of Pensacola, Florida) invited him into your homes.”  The Hearing Officer then looked directly at the CEO seated in the front row and said, “They may have invited you into their homes but they didn’t invite you to “urinate” on their living room carpet.”  The CEO and his entourage quickly left the hearing without making any further comments.

That same sort of statement is applicable today concerning oil companies drilling in your land and mine. We may have invited them to come to our area to produce oil for our use, but we didn’t invite them to savage our precious environment.

We demand the development of up-to-date safety systems to prevent blowouts and spills. The industry must use quadruple redundancy to prevent further oil caused disasters. We are suffering from an oil catastrophe so large the Exxon Valdez is a minor spill compared to BP’s Deepwater Horizon. The BP geyser continues to pollute the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 100,000 barrels of oil per day. BP oil has caused pain and suffering to thousands of fishing families and coastal businesses. Many will never recover.

I am a 77 year-old sixth generation Floridian who has represented the seafood industry since 1964. Our region produces some of the best seafood in the world on a sustainable basis. We have survived hurricanes and the normal environmental perturbations over which we have no control. As of April 20, 2010, our entire culture is in jeopardy. Life will never be the same for so many good people. That saddens me greatly and angers me as well for it will be my children and grandchildren who will bear the brunt of this environmental tragedy.

Some species like oysters will require a significantly longer period of time to be harvestable if oil gets into the shallow bays, oyster reefs and estuaries. In Apalachicola, Florida for instance, there are 3,000 oyster harvesters and workers who form the bulk of this small community’s work force. They will be totally out of work if the oil reaches their oyster harvesting areas. The oil is only two counties away as of June 21, 2010. Think about 3,000 out-of-work fishermen and workers in a small community with no other jobs available. NONE. Multiply that scenario a hundred or more times around the Gulf of Mexico and you can understand what we are up against.

There are several folks I will share your e-mail with and hope one of them has the time to take you up on your generous offer to attend the Galway Film Festival.

I don’t know which web site you used to contact me so let me list both of them. is the site where I keep current data on big problems is the site I use for archives and it contains info on a wide variety of our issues.

Bob Jones, Executive Director

Southeastern Fisheries Association Inc.

1118-B Thomasville Road

Tallahassee, Florida 32303