FWC commissioners tour oil spill impact areas in Northwest Florida
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Media contact: Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) spent Tuesday on a daylong fact-finding tour to
get a first-hand look at how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is
affecting Northwest Florida's fish and wildlife.
Tuesday evening, commissioners hosted a public
forum in Pensacola Beach to learn more about how the spill is
affecting residents' livelihoods.
Commissioners took an aerial tour over Pensacola
Bay and parts of the coast where they observed streamers of oil and
sheen approaching Florida waters. They also saw the role the
FWC is playing by providing more than 30 boats and several aircraft
to spot oil and direct skimmer boats to trouble spots.
FWC commissioners also toured a Tri-State Bird
Rescue and Research facility contracted by BP to rescue and
rehabilitate oiled birds.
"We are pleased this facility has been established
to rehabilitate wildlife but want to convey it's critical for
animals to be quickly recovered once they have been reported," FWC
Chairman Rodney Barreto said.
Oiled-wildlife should be reported by calling
Commissioner Brian Yablonski said the crisis calls
for a bigger and faster response.
"We need a better response to oil in the water,"
Yablonski said. "Florida needs to get more and bigger skimmers to
collect oil, and BP-contracted vessels must move more quickly to
collect and control oil in the water."
At the 5 p.m. meeting, commissioners heard staff
reports about FWC working closely with stakeholders and partners to
manage Florida's response to the crisis.
Commissioners and staff took note of comments about
the BP claims process to compensate people and businesses hard hit
by direct oil impacts and damages resulting from a mistaken
perception of widespread oil impacts to Florida.
"The first line of support is through the BP claims
office at 800-440-0858," FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley said.
"Small business loans are an important asset, too, and
businesses can get disaster assistance through the U.S. Small
Business Administration (SBA)."
"Low-interest loans can be processed quickly,"
SBA's Mark Randle told commissioners.
People can contact the SBA Disaster Assistance
Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FWC will continue to support Florida's
emergency response team and the incident command to monitor and
respond to developments.
The FWC's next regular meeting will be June
23-24 in Lake Mary near Orlando.