Veteran Net Maker Remembers Changes In Seafood Industry

At 71, veteran net maker Herb Glavan has no intentions of giving up a way of life. Glavan grew up just a toss away from the once thriving beachfront seafood packing plants. His father opened a net making business in 1937, and the younger Glavan made nets during the summer shrimp season. During the winter he drudged for oysters.

"That's the boat I was workin' on, that boat. We'd go out and catch 'em, we'd spend 3, 4, 5 days out, come in, unload and we'd go out and get another load. That was a way of life back then, drudging oysters and catching shrimp."

Glavan's mother and sisters worked in the processing plants that opened in the late 1800's along Point Cadet. Thousands of local families worked side by side with Yugloslavian, Austrian and Polish immigrants. Seafood was plentiful and there was lots of work, making Biloxi the Seafood Capital of the World. But changes were on the way for the industry and the factories.

"It was deteriorating and they weren't able to keep them up because I guess the imports were causing a lot of this, the imports have caused a lot of closures of our seafood plants and a lot of 'em couldn't stand it cause they couldn't compete."

Many of the plants on Point Cadet closed. Ten years ago they all made way for Mississippi's newest industry, casinos.

"In a way it was a blessing that the casinos did come in here and clean up and do something that was excitable and maybe draw some pepole in here and give some jobs to people that really needed jobs," Glavan said.

But Glavan fondly remembers the old days when seafood reigned supreme in his hometown.

"I would give anything I got right now to go back in them times and spend another ten years in the heydey of the seafood industry when it really flourished."

Although there are no longer any processing plants along the beach front, they are several on Biloxi's Back Bay.