That's the case in Grand Isle, La., where two-thirds of the residents get their income from fishing the area waters. Many have done so for generations, but none can continue because of contamination caused by the BP oil spill.
"Early Show" Weather Anchor and Features Reporter Dave Price traveled to Grand Isle and spoke with some of the people there. Many are beyond the point of frustration.
Price said, "You ask about BP, and you see the raw emotion of a man whose livelihood is at stake."
Floyd Lasseigne, one of the Grand Isle residents, told Price, "If I saw them I would tell them to burn in hell."
Floyd and his wife, Julie Lasseigne, have been combing the gulf for shrimp, oysters and crabs for 30 years.
Floyd said the oil spill really hurts.
He said, "It kills me it absolutely kills me, this is all I did all my life, this is all I really want to do all my life."
However, their business may not be afloat much longer. Their boats are quiet, their nets are stored and their future is in doubt.
Julie said their entire lives are at stake.
"Everything we own we could lose because we don't have an income right now."
In a good year, the Lasseignes could earn upwards of $70,000 dollars a year. The reward for 14-hour days with little rest. Now with oil killing or contaminating their catch, their exhaustion comes from sleepless nights filled with worry and heartache.
Julie said, "I just worry about my daughter's future. My daughter is 14 years old. She wants to go to college to be a doctor and right now we can't afford to send her to college. Because financially we can't support her."
No one in Grand Isle, Price said, is immune from the personal pain inflicted by this oil spill -- not even the children.
Deanna-Kay Lasseigne, 14, told Price she's worried.
She said, "My future is here. I want to grow up and be a doctor and come back here and practice, but will there be a community here?"
To this town of 1,600 not being able to live off the Gulf is not just about economics, but about history culture and community. The Lasseigne family knows that well. They have been fishing these waters for a century.
But Deanna-Kay said her generation may see the end of a era.
"My brother is the fifth (generation)," she said.
Price asked if it's likely to make it another generation.
She replied, "No, not with this."
With Julie at his side, Floyd said, "We've been married 27 years this month. We went through Katrina and Katrina demolished out house. I had cancer. I fought that, I beat that. We went through (Hurricane) Gustav -- beat Gustav, and now this."
Floyd said if this oil spill drags out longer, he can do nothing.
"The boat is going to have to stay tied up to the dock. I can't do nothing with it. I can't go to work. The boat is going to have to stay tied up to the dock."
Price added on "The Early Show" that Floyd can neither read nor write and doesn't seem to have a "Plan B."
"He quite honestly paralyzed with fear," Price said, "Not only for himself, but for his daughter and for the next generation and his friends and neighbors here because this a community that simply survives on these waters for both fishing, tourism and a way of life."
"Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez observed, "What makes it worse, some say, even than katrina because the hurricane came and went, but the oil keeps coming and things seem to be getting worse by the day, is to think about how a community rebounds from something like this."
Price replied, "The question is, 'Can it rebound?' You have the effect of the toxicity of the water and what it does to the food supply. You have the fact that no one is no one will come to a place like Grand Isle, so they say, if it's polluted. And if no one comes and there is no industry here, who is going to stay? And that's a problem that's already battled and plagued this state since Katrina. So the question is: What now?"
Like many of the fishermen in Grand Isle, the Lasseignes have been compensated by BP with a check for $5,000, and while they expect to get another payment, they told Price it's not nearly what the family would have earned during what is now -- or should have been -- their busy season.