Biloxi Shrimp Tour upset with city actions

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Since the 1950s, the Biloxi Shrimp Tour has been giving tourists a firsthand look at the industry that built Biloxi. The tour still uses the same vessel that started the business, the Sail Fish.

Louis Gorenflo's father designed the boat and started the tour. Even though he lives in Virginia, he brings his family every year to experience what his father began.

"This is an educational tour, as well as a commercial enterprise. It teaches about Biloxi: its origins and its watermen who work the water, and shrimp factories and oyster factories, and where they came from and what was a building fabric of Biloxi," said Gorenflo.

The tour is now operated by Brandy and Michael Moore, who have also worked to organize charters for more than 30 vessels as a part of the Biloxi Cruise Company.

Despite the very popular tourist attraction, Brandy Moore is concerned the city may not be supporting the business as it should.

"We've been trying very hard and diligently to get the tourism rolling in Mississippi, especially in Biloxi on the Gulf Coast. And starting different programs and tourism things and you have to have signage for that, and it's been a lot of trouble with the city to get what we need to get the tourism boost here," said Moore.

According to Moore, the trouble began when the city canceled her lease on an office the cruise company had in the Port Commission Building.

City officials say the city canceled the lease out of the best interest of all the harbor tenants.

"There were a number of issues that caused some alienation of the tenants that are down there. The lease that we had, we were able to terminate it without cause. We just thought with the number of issues down there, this would be the best thing," said city spokesperson Vincent Creel.

That wasn't the only issue the tour is facing from the city.

"Lately we've just had a lot of trouble with signage, getting our name and getting exposure," said Moore.

Moore says signs they had posted around the harbor advertising the tour have been removed by the city.

"This was something that was done without the city's permission or authority," explained Creel. "Those signs, we had to get them removed because, frankly, all the other tenants were saying, 'Hey, why can't we put up signs?'"

Moore says she fears for the future of the tour.  However, city officials say they celebrate the tour's long standing history, even featuring it on the city website.

Moore says she has hired a lawyer to consider all the company's options.

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