A BP program to hire the owners of small boats to help clean the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has reportedly resulted in windfalls for rich pleasure-craft owners -- and not commercial fishermen who have seen their livelihoods covered in crude.
The British oil giant announced its "Vessels of Opportunity" program in early May, roughly two weeks after the April 20 oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers. To qualify, operators need to attend a four-hour training session, a dockside examination by the U.S. Coast Guard and meet crew requirements based on the size of their vessels.
But a "large number" of the 1,900 contracts issued by BP for the program have gone to owners of pleasure boats, such as doctors and lawyers, the Daily Beast reports.
"We have these weekend warriors taking away jobs from those who fish for a living," boat captain Tom Becker told the website. "Every day I see the boat trailers fill the parking lot as the pleasure boats get their assignment for [the] day while the commercial fleet sits idle."
Becker, an officer of the National Association of Charterboat Operators, estimated that up to 90 percent of the BP contracts in his Mississippi harbor had gone to pleasure vessels.
The program pays boat captains $1,200 to $3,000 per day, depending on the size of the vessel, the website reports. Deckhands, meanwhile, can earn up to $200 daily.
A BP spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment when reached by FoxNews.com, but company spokesman Graham MacEwen told the Daily Beast changes have been made to the program to favor fishermen.