The BP oil spill of April 2010 was without a doubt the largest oil spill in US history. As well as the tragedy of the 11 workers who lost their lives, the oil spill inflicted serious environmental, psychological and economic damage to many of the surrounding coastal communities.
It is still too early to fully gage the environmental legacy of the oil spill on marine life in the Florida Keys. The immediate economic damage and loss felt by the residents of the Keys, however, has long been felt.
The BP Oil Disaster and the Seafood Industry
There are over 1,300 fishermen with saltwater product licenses in the Florida Keys region. The fishermen constitute the second largest economic engine after the tourist industry.
Although there has not been any identifiable, negative impact on the seafood in the Florida Keys’ area, many of the commercial fishermen lost customers due to the customer perception of contamination of shrimp, oysters and other locally caught fish.
Charter fishermen depend on providing tourists with a great fishing experience of some of the Gulf’s prized seafood. Deterred by reports of tar patches and rotten fish, and despite the best efforts of the Food and Drug Administration in refuting these claims, the oil spill took a toll on many of the charter fisherman in Florida.
As well as the fishermen, the Keys’ restaurants, famous for their seafood, also lost a considerable amount of business due to the consumers’ fear of eating potentially contaminated seafood.
The Effect of the Oil Disaster on Tourism in the Keys
Long after the leaking oil well was finally capped, tourists and potential visitors to the Florida Keys deemed it too risky. The Keys are the most popular diving spot in the world and even though there was scant evidence that the oil had reached the Florida Keys, the news media and the reports that the oil would soon reach the Florida Keys, as well as false reports of tar balls found on the Florida beaches, meant that cancellations were not long in coming.
Hotels and beach front rentals reported cancellations as tourists chose to bypass the Gulf beaches and instead head for Atlantic coast destinations. The decrease in tourists was felt by many other businesses and bars that rely financially on the many visitors to the Keys.
Of all the regions that were affected by the oil spill, the Florida Keys had the most to lose. Tourism is the economic lifeblood of Florida, generating $60 billion in spending from more than 80 million visitors every year. The threat of the oil spill alone was enough to make a serious dent in the tourist industry of the Florida Keys.
If you or your business has suffered economic damage as a result of the BP oil spill, contact us at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti PA for a free consultation today.