Vietnamese-American fishers fight for oil spill claim approval

fisheries.jpgBy Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, The Times-Picayune

For decades the Vietnamese-American fishing community in southeast Louisiana has used fish, shrimp, oysters and crab to feed the community and as currency to barter for other goods and produce.

It is a story common to the fishing culture throughout the Gulf Coast, with anglers, trawlers and trappers often distributing portions of their catch back into their local communities to feed others or through informal systems of trade.

But in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, that web of community networks has faltered and the subsistence claim process to compensate the fishers, and the communities they once helped support, is vague, difficult to navigate and appears to require documentation that many cannot provide, some Vietnamese-American fishers said during a news conference at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation office in eastern New Orleans Wednesday.

Members of the Vietnamese community listen during a community meeting at Mary Queen of Vietnam Church in New Orleans in May, weeks after the explosion of the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

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