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Interviewee: John Falterman, Jr.

Role: Charter boat owner

Date of Interview: 4/12/12

Collection: Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster Oral History Project

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: After Hurricane Katrina, John Falterman built a charter boat business in the wetlands of Louisiana. After the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, he worked for a time for BP's Vessels of Opportunity Program. He talks about the power of media coverage in supporting his business or destroying his business, noting that he invited the media onboard his charter boat after the oil disaster to publicize that the fish in the Louisiana wetlands are safe. He has been able to continue to make a living with his charter boat business.

Transcript:

We relied on money that we had saved, and we ran charters as much as we could. And then when I went to work with VOO, [Vessels of Opportunity] we made some money there. But it goes back to the whole media thing, that if the media does not tell the world that fishing's good down here, then it would just destroy us. And it was one of those things that you had to prove, and that's why I had media people onboard my boat and we would go catch fish, and I was showing people that, "We have safe fish. They have no evidence and stuff." So that's how I financially kept us and the business floating. I think we lost some potential clients. I wouldn't say it's back. [We] have so much growth every year [that it's hard to say]. What percentage of growth did I lose because of BP? I probably will never know. I have clients that I don't fish anymore because they moved out of the area; they relocated; didn't want to fool with down here and moved up north or whatever. So I've lost some clients. I've gained some clients over the years. The word-of-mouth thing, like I said, I'm a true believer of that, and I think that's what's keeping my books filled. But to say and give a percentage of how much, I couldn't put a number on it. I really couldn't. I could put a number of how many cancellations I had the first year of BP, but from that point on I won't know.

To listen to John's interview, click here.