BP money for fishermen awaits judge’s order

Florida Keys commercial fishermen who have not settled with BP over damages from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill should gather their paperwork, says a local attorney.

“This program for commercial fishermen and commercial fishing-boat owners is very short-lived once the clock starts ticking,” said Tavernier attorney Christiana Vaeth, who is married to a fisherman.

“Time literally will be of the essence in terms of getting their trip tickets and other documentation together,” she said.

On Nov. 8 in New Orleans, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier held a final hearing on whether to approve terms of a massive settlement over ramifications from the spill that stained the Gulf of Mexico.

Spill oil apparently never reached Keys waters but demand for regional seafood plummeted over concern about oil pollution possibly affecting finfish and shellfish.

A special fund of $2.3 billion has been set aside for seafood-related claims.

BP representatives contend that is sufficient since fishing appears to have recovered. Attorneys for fishermen say effects of the spill will not be fully known for years, and that the amount could short-change the industry.

Barbier did not issue a ruling but likely will issue an order in the near future to move forward on the settlement plan, according to news accounts.

Once that order is issued, fishermen will have just 30 days to file paperwork to get in line for a settlement, Vaeth said.

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