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Ken Feinberg, the so-called “claims czar” who is responsible for divvying up $20 billion to those damaged by the BP oil spill, announced Wednesday how he would determine losses. Not everyone is happy.
In fact, nobody is happy. There are nearly 500,000 claims, many from oystermen and shrimpers. Under Feinberg’s plan, according to Houma Today’s John DeSantis, claimants would be paid “double the amount of their documented losses for the year 2010, when compared with their profits for 2008 and 2009 averaged together. Oystermen would get four times the amount of their documented losses for 2010.”
We heard from a shrimper this morning who says this won’t remotely compensate those who work the Gulf. The problem is that Feinberg doesn’t seem to understand the fishing industry — how money is made, invested and what those baseline years (2008 and ’09) were like.
The shrimper explains that 2008 and ’09 were too limited. They were good harvest years for some while others were “rebuilding more than harvesting.”
“We have to be able to reach back even before Katrina to have a real sense of production capabilities,” the shrimper explained. “To saddle shrimpers with having to use only 2008 and 2009, the worst seasons on record because of price, is not a true assessment of what was lost in 2010.”
Also, the shrimper wants to know what Feinberg means by “profits.” If the claims czar looks only at decline in net income, “most of us will be forced into court, especially those of us who had stable oyster sales and reinvested into rehabilitating our reefs where all of our profits went back into the business. This must be cleared up.”
DeSantis picks up some of the same arguments in his very good story.
They are a long way from settling things on the Gulf.