Coast fishermen still wary about their catch

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - It's been six months since the massive Gulf oil spill, and three months since the well was capped, but it's hard to tell anything happened at all from the activity at the Ocean Springs Harbor.

Brad Sams and his friends were heading out Friday morning for a day of deepwater spear fishing. But they're still cautious about their catch.

"It's been a concern, even before the spill," Sams said. "Mercury levels were on the rise in the Gulf and you always have to take that into consideration. Just eat the fish in moderation is the way I do it, once or twice a week and no more."

One person who isn't concerned is Jennifer Dwyer, who fishes from the pier, hoping to land the big one.

"Because it was deemed safe and we haven't seen any signs," Dwyer said.  "I mean, there's people who catch oysters out there and pick them right out of the water and eat them when they catch them, and there's never any oil in there."

Others, like Paul Boswell, have no problem cooking up their catch.

"I've been eating and it's been fine as far as I've seen," Boswell said. "As you clean it, you can look and tell by cutting their stomachs open and checking on it."

For week now, the government and officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources have been saying that seafood and shellfish on the coast is safe. But most people we spoke with at the docks Friday said they'd rather see the proof for themselves.

"We're going to test them and see what they look like," Richard Cox said. "If they're good enough, we'll take them home. If they aren't, they go back in the water."

But getting back in the water is at least a sign that life is returning to normal on the coast.

Friday, another area of the Gulf of Mexico was reopened to commercial and recreational fishing. The 7,037-square-mile area is about 70 miles south of the Florida panhandle, between the Florida-Alabama state line and Florida's Cape San Blas.

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