BP Fund Dangling Bait
Louisiana Seafood Board blames BP fund administrator for chaos
By Natalia Real
The Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, Ewell Smith, believes Kenneth Feinberg is responsible for the insecurity and instability now plaguing the Louisiana seafood industry.
Kenneth Feinberg, attorney and government-appointed administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund, has caused these problems for the fishing industry and related businesses in Louisiana and perhaps even throughout the coast of the Gulf of Mexico through the claims process and a lack of deadlines, Ewell said.
“The way it’s set up is making fishermen wonder if they should go out and fish, or if they should stay at home and not go out and fish so they can claim,” he explained. “They don’t know what to do.”
Because of that uncertainty, many fishers have not gone back out to the waters, and this has been causing discontinuity of supply in the market, he said.
“And the longer we’re out of the marketplace, the harder it is to get back our market share and those markets we lose. So it’s critical that Feinberg defines this process as some sort of deadline for people to get their claims done in, so people can have a defining moment so they can get on with their life,” Ewell declared.
Feinberg must take on this challenge immediately, he added.
According to Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), even though the entity will have enough funds to pay legitimate losses, a danger exists that the hefty volume of claims could create holdups and slow down the payments, reports Business Insurance.
“There is great concern that there will be so many claims that it will be difficult to efficiently process the claims,” he said. “But BP has made it clear that there will be adequate funding to pay claims.”
Further, the GCCF has restricted the insurance claims due to the spill, but rejected claims may go to insurers. At that point, whether those claimants will be able to recover losses through this channel will be contingent on their particular situations and the type of insurance coverage they have, experts have said.
Created in August, the BP-funded GCCF took over claims administration after the company paid about USD 399 million on 127,000 claims. As of 5 November, the GCCF has paid USD 3.42 billion on claims.
BP’s most recent estimate was of some USD 40 billion for cleaning up and claims payments, the firm said this month.
Claimants have until 23 November to file for emergency advance payments from the GCCF. Thereafter, claims will be addressed under a new protocol that will be released in the near future.