Coast fishermen hopeful 2011 will be better

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - By Brad Kessie – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - The tonging reefs off Pass Christian's harbor have enough oysters on them for fishermen to fill ten sacks a day. However, due to the lingering effects of the April oil spill, dredging reefs are off limits to fishermen for at least this season.

That's made it hard for people like John Livings to earn a living when a significant portion of his livelihood has been temporarily sacked.

"We were catching oysters in the beginning of 2010 this year before the oil spill," John Livings said. "Just me and my crew was catching 100 sacks a day. And after the oil spill now, there's nothing on the reefs. So something happened to them."

The limitations on oyster season came after a shrimp season that basically didn't exist. Boats remained at the docks, because for much of the 2010 brown shrimp season, the oil polluted Mississippi Sound was off limits to fishing. And there are no assurances 2011 will be any better.

"It's not looking too good for next year. We might have a job next year, we might not," fisherman Drew Livings said. .

The skepticism fishermen have about 2011 harvests has everything to do with the oil spill. Scientists are using BP money to analyze the long term impact of the oil spill on oysters, shrimp and other marine life.  But the DMR's Bill Walker says their findings may not be complete for a couple of generations.

Fishermen can't wait that long.

"Me and my crew, we have a lot of time and money invested, so this is what we need to do," John Livings said.

So, they'll keep doing what they do best in 2011, reeling in seafood, and hoping and praying that what they catch isn't tainted by the residual impact of the oil spill.

A Biloxi seafood dealer told us the day before Christmas that business for him is a lot better than it was during the height of the oil spill crisis. He's hoping 2011 will continue that upward trend.

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