Acy Cooper, Jr. lives in Venice, Louisiana, 75 miles south of New Orleans at the mouth of the Mississippi River. He fishes for shrimp, like his father and his sons. As vice president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, Acy has spent years advocating for the needs of his fellow shrimpers: fighting against the dumping of foreign shrimp in the domestic market, for instance, or fighting for a certification and branding program for Louisiana commercial fishermen. Now, he is speaking out for the many challenges fishermen face in the wake of the oil spill. His has been an especially strong voice calling for a fair distribution of work on the clean-up program – making sure as many people as possible get the paycheck the work offers. He also has advocated with fervor for fishermen working on the clean-up to be provided with respirators to protect them from the potentially harmful effects of oil and dispersant.
In the first clip – recorded over the bustle at Riverside Restaurant in Venice, which Acy owns with his wife – Acy describes all that he and other local fishermen have at stake in this crisis.
In the second clip (at 1:01), Acy describes some of the mental health problems he fears will come as the disaster continues to unfold.
In the third clip (at 2:22), Acy describes his concerns about the health risks facing fishermen who work on the clean up, and the need for respirators.