Charter boat operators plead for help - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Charter boat operators plead for help

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday's Commission on Marine Resources meeting was packed, and oil was on everyone's mind.

Bill Richardson is in charge of the shrimp sampling program for the Department of Marine Resources.  He said samples look good right now. But that could change quickly, as could the lives of those who shrimp for a living.   

"It's a new monster for us, so we won't know how that will affect shrimp season," Richardson said. "But currently we are going with shrimp season as planned, and hopefully our fishermen will get to benefit from that."

Once again, the plight of commercial fishermen and charter boat captains was prominently discussed. Captain Tom Becker said he has lost his main source of revenue.  

"I have lost over $17,000 in the past month and I already have one cancellation for July, because people have the mentality that we have problems with our waters," Becker said.

Because of that mentality, commissioners voted to pass a resolution asking BP to hire as many local shrimpers and charter boats as possible for any potential clean-up work. 

But there was some good news about the spill: It's still a long way away, and hasn't drifted closer in several days. That according to CMR Executive Director Dr. Bill Walker.  

"We want to fight this situation out there, 50 to 90 miles away from the Mississippi coastline. And so far the combined good fortune of wind and currents combined with the effort that's in place out there," Walker said.  "Burning and skimming the material is also good and it looks like if they can get the leak stopped that we could handle what's out there."  

As for the actual opening of the shrimp season, officials said that if no oil reaches our shores in the next few weeks, shrimp should reach the legal requirement of numbering 68 to the pound. That's expected to happen sometime around the middle of June.

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