University of Southern Mississippi Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage interviews with Gulf Coast marine harvesters affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil (DWH) Spill are included in an initiative supported with funding by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA’s DWH Oral History Project documents the experience of people living in Gulf of Mexico (GOM) DWH oil-spill-affected fishing communities. The oral history data complements other social and economic data about the spill collected by NOAA and other governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations.
NOAA social scientists will use these data to help them determine the factors and conditions that affect the ability of Gulf of Mexico commercial and recreational marine harvesters, and supporting shore side businesses, to adapt to any DWH oil-disaster-induced changes to the local marine and human environments.
DWH oral history interviewees were systematically selected to reflect ethnic and occupational diversity found in the marine commercial and recreational fishing and harvesting industries in areas of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana affected by the oil spill. Sixty-nine interviews were collected and are available online at http://voices.nmfs.noaa.gov/index.html.
Under the terms of the project, copies of the oral histories collected by Center director Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes and his staff have been provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Voices from the Fisheries (VFF) Project (http://voices.nmfs.noaa.gov/index.html), an online database dedicated to the preservation of oral histories related to commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries and communities that support these fisheries; to NMFS’s Southeast Regional Office (St. Petersburg, FL.) and Science Center (Miami, FL.); to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Management Council (Tampa); and the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (Ocean Springs, MS.). They are also archived at the Center .
Anthropologists in NOAA/NMFS’s Office of Science and Technology in Silver Spring, Maryland, and its Southeast Regional Office in St. Petersburg, Fla. worked with Kyriakoudes and the Center's staff to design the oral history project.
The VFF Project site and its oral history database are resources for the public that inform, educate and provide primary information for those interested in the local, human experience with surrounding marine environments.
“Each oral history archived is unique and precious in its own right, but when combined with others becomes an important resource for documenting our past and our continuing connection with the oceans and Great Lakes,” said Jessica Bailey, VFF project manager.
Bailey said the VFF Project also encourages the creation of new oral history collections. The site has resources for those considering beginning a fisheries related oral history project. It also provides a handbook available as a PDF download; an oral history webinar providing online training; and an extensive bibliography of films, books and oral history websites.
Kyriakoudes and his staff created four multimedia exhibits based upon reoccurring themes from the DWH oral histories. The themes include social impact; impact on business and recreation; impact on the Vietnamese community; and traditional fisheries knowledge. Each theme includes 2-3 minute audio selections from six interviews. The audio selections provide glimpses into the full interviews. These are featured on the VFF home page at http://voices.nmfs.noaa.gov/index.html.
“We’re proud to support this project and show how oral history can be a powerful tool that transcends academic disciplines,” Kyriakoudes said. “In the Voices from the Fisheries project, the humanities and sciences work seamlessly in examining the impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and where we go from here in addressing its challenges to the affected marine environment.”
For information about the Southern Miss Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, visit www.usm.edu/oral-history.