The company has paid to help replace oyster reefs in Mississippi and Louisiana and rebuild sand dunes and sea turtle habitats in Alabama and northwest Florida. In addition to monitoring part of the Gulf coastline, BP spokesman Scott Dean said, the company has planted new grass in the Louisiana marshes, where the losses sped up erosion already blamed for the loss of an area the size of Manhattan every year.
But of about 13,000 holes drilled into the beaches and marshes in search of settled oil, Dean said, only 3% have found enough to require cleanup, he said.
"The vast majority of the work has been done," Dean said. But when previously undiscovered oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout does turn up, "We take responsibility for the cleanup," he said.
Last year, the company agreed to pay $7.8 billion to individuals and businesses who filed economic, property and health claims. But in March, the company asked a judge to halt those payments, arguing that it was facing hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in payouts for "fictitious losses."
It's also pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges and fined $4 billion in the deaths of the 11 men killed aboard the rig and been temporarily barred from getting new federal contracts.
Now BP is back in court, battling to avoid a finding of gross negligence that would sock it with penalties up to $4,300 per barrel under the Clean Water Act -- another $17 billion-plus by the federal government's estimate of the spill. BP says that figure is at least 20% too high.
The plaintiffs include the federal government, the states affected by the disaster and people like Encalade and Barisich, who have rejected previous settlement offers from BP.
Freddie Duplessis, whose boat is tied up next to Encalade's, settled with the company. He said he received about $250,000 from BP after the spill, including money the company paid to hire his boat for the cleanup effort. That's about what he says he would have made in six months of fishing before the spill, before expenses.
"I've been all right. I've been paying my bills, but what I'm gonna do now?" asked Duplessis, 54. "You're still gonna have bills. Everything I've got is mine, but I've got to maintain it."
But proving just how much damage can be blamed on the oil spill will be a difficult task in the courtroom. That's where the Natural Resource Damage Assessment, launched after the disaster and partly paid for by BP, comes in. And right now, the studies that make up that assessment are closely held, ready to be played like a hole card in poker.
"There's a substantial amount of fisheries work that's not actually going to see the light of day until after the court case is resolved," USF's Murawski said.
The region's seafood landings largely returned to normal in 2011, after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration closed most of the Gulf to fishing during the blowout, NOAA data show. And BP notes that across the four states that saw the most impact -- Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida -- shrimp and finfish catches were up in 2012 compared with the average haul between 2007 and 2009.
Blue crab was off about 1%. And while oysters regionwide remained 17% below 2007-09 figures, the company says that the flooding that hit the region in 2011 has been blamed for some of that downturn, again by dumping more fresh water into the coastal estuaries.
But Gulf-wide, shrimp landings in 2011 and 2012 were about 15% below the 2000-09 average, according to figures compiled by Mississippi State University's Coastal Research and Extension Center.
And in Louisiana, there's still a pronounced downturn.
State data show that blue crab landings are off an average of 18%, and brown shrimp -- the season for which the industry is now gearing up -- is down 39% compared with the 2002-09 catch.
In Yscloskey, Barisich said three bayou fishermen took settlements from BP, sold their leases and walked away from the docks. As for him, at 56, he's trying to adapt.
He's studying for a license that will allow him to take passengers out on shrimp trawls -- a kind of working vacation for tourists with a taste for the job he learned from his father.
"I can't do what I have for the last two years," he said.
And in Pointe a la Hache, Encalade got heartbreaking news in early April.
The public reefs in nearby Black Bay, one of the post-spill reconstruction projects, had been closed after spat turned up to protect the larvae. But the spat died, and the reefs were being reopened to allow the few remaining mature oysters to be harvested.
"All the little oysters have died, and the big oysters, you can't make a dollar with them," Encalade said. "BP has retired me out of the oyster business."