Mississippi seafood insiders share concerns - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mississippi seafood insiders share concerns

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) – North of South Mississippi's coastline on the Escatawpa River lies Rachel's Widow's Walk.  The small restaurant has been serving up gulf shrimp since it opened just more than a year ago, but owner Sam Craft worries that could eventually change.  The giant oil slick drifting in the Gulf of Mexico has caused authorities to close federal fishing waters, throwing this year's fishing and shrimping seasons into jeopardy.

"At this time we haven't imported anything," said Craft.  "We have back-stocked shrimp and oysters, but you can only keep the oysters so long."

Craft said gulf shrimp a mainstay at his restaurant, and he can't imagine importing supplies from anywhere else.

"It's ridiculous to have to import shrimp to sell at my seafood restaurant in Moss Point, Mississippi in Mississippi Gulf Coast waters," he said.  "That's crazy."

Below the restaurant lies a marina, also owned by Craft, where charter captain Gary Williams keeps his boats.  He said since the oil spill neared the coast, he's stopped receiving calls from potential passengers.

"I'm severely worried about it," said Williams of the spill. "This is the food chain."

Williams said after Hurricane Katrina and the economic recession, he's not sure the coast could weather a hard hit from the Deep Horizon oil spill.  "I'm afraid this is the last nail in the coffin for the coast."

While both of these men depend on gulf waters, they said they also worry about the fresh water closer to home.

"There are 26 miles of marsh out here," said Craft, pointing toward the river.  "And that marsh gets coated with oil, that oil comes up, say comes up higher this month because we have a lot of rain; it's going to release a lot of oil again."

Craft said high tides have covered his property with water a dozen times this year alone.  He worries if next time the water is filled with oil, he could face a very expensive cleanup.

"I've bought a lot of dawn, just to clean my concrete slabs and stuff," said Craft.  "I'm going to be scrubbing rocks.  You know, my rocks in my parking lot are going to be covered in oil."

Both men worry that even a little bit up the river, the oil's effect on their lives is no longer "if," but "when."

"It's coming," said Craft.  "There's too much of it, and it's in a bad place."

Officials said gulf coast seafood is still safe to eat, and Mississippi waters are still open for fishing at this time.

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