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Eyewitnesses Speak Out About Explosive Federal Mandate Killing Snapper
EUGENE ISLAND, La. (WPMI) They have plenty of fishing tales to tell, but it's a disturbing discovery last August that the Helldivers wanted to share.
Five members of the extreme spearfishing club were offshore in the Eugene Island oil field to dive rigs and bring home the biggest catch.
"The first thing we noticed was a single red snapper float by," Helldiver Chet
McCullough told Local 15. "Then, in an instant, it was a floatilla of dead red snapper as far as we could see."
They pulled up one of the snapper and cut it open to see what was wrong. Its eyes were bulging, its ribcage was shattered, and its internal organs ruptured "like something in a blender."
"It had basically blown up internally," McCullough said.
The crew realized all of the snapper were floating from an explosive rig removal operation miles off in the distance.
"We started putting together the puzzle," George Ansardi, another clubmember on the trip, said. "We realized they must have blown the rig. They're limiting us on how many red snapper we can catch because they're 'overfished', but here they are blowing them up. Nobody says anything."
Its a controversial federal policy called Idle Iron enacted after the BP oil spill mandating operators to remove old, non-producing oil and gas structures in the Gulf of Mexico.
Some of the structures date back to the 1960's and over the decades have turned into thriving coral habitats with abundant fish life. When those rigs are removed with explosives, it results in fish kills along with what rig supporters consider a loss of essential fish habitat.
In February, Local 15 uncovered photos of a significant red snapper fish kill following an explosive removal. Our story prompted Gulf Coast congressmen to send a cease and desist letter to the Secretary of the Interior.
According to National Marine Fisheries Service records obtained bt Local 15, there were an estimated 1,000 fish killed during the rig removal operation witnessed by the Helldivers.