Thursday marked the one-month anniversary of the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 people and the containment failure of the rig’s underwater well. With oil continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, and the stopgap strategies and half measures that have been tried so far failing to halt the flow, untold damage has been, and is being, done to the environment, while the lives and livelihoods of thousands are being turned upside down.
A disaster of this magnitude on one of the largest bodies of water available to North American boaters will certainly have some impact on the recreational boating industry, but it’s not yet clear to what extent.
Officials in Florida said Thursday that the state’s beaches have not yet been touched by the spill, although tourism has already taken a hit nonetheless. And heavy crude has begun to reach the wetlands of Louisiana, while another portion of the slick has entered the Gulf’s loop current, potentially spreading the damage.
At the moment, rumor and uncertainty seem to be doing more harm than the oil itself in some places. As Chuck Lanza, emergency management director for Florida’s Broward County said in a Miami Herald story, “The problem is perception. We find one tar ball and panic sets in.” According to the story, it’s not yet known when, or even if, the oil will reach Florida’s coastline.
But anything that keeps people off the water, especially as Memorial Day nears and the boating season gets fully underway, doesn’t help the industry. BoatU.S. has dedicated a Web page that provides resources for boat owners who have questions or issues related to the spill .
Have you seen or heard anything where you are that would indicate what impact the oil spill is having on the boating industry? If so, please leave a comment below and let us know.