The disruption of the seafood industry caused by the BP Oil Spill in 2010 continues to have a significant impact on the livelihood of an estimated 80% of Southeast Asian American families in the Gulf Coast Region. Last month, we traveled to New Orleans, LA, and Biloxi, MS, to meet with AAPI community members, fishermen, business leaders, and government officials and learn more about the economic opportunities and challenges facing the community.
Throughout these conversations, common themes and issues emerged, specifically around barriers to language access, financial products to re-start small businesses, health care, delays with accessing BP claims, disaster preparedness and recovery, and technical assistance in applying for federal grants. While some fishermen are transitioning to different jobs in the areas of welding, pipe fitting, and sustainable agriculture, others are focused on restoring the fishing industry. Despite the barriers or difficulties in transitioning to other jobs, the AAPI community in the Gulf Coast remains resilient and vibrant.
We look forward to continuing to partner with local community groups and working together to create opportunities for economic and community development in the months ahead.
Adil Kabani is the Economic Policy Advisor and Courtney Chappell is the Senior Policy Advisor with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.