Tony Culpepper enjoys fishing off the new Ken Combs pier at the foot of Courthouse Road in Gulfport. But he says there's something missing. There are no trash cans on the pier.
"There's no trash cans at the end of this pier. And the pier itself, roughly paced, is like eight hundred foot long, which is an inconvenience for the fisher people," said Culpepper, as he walked the Combs pier.
There's a single trash barrel at the foot of the Ken Combs Pier. But Culpepper says there's a need for garbage cans on the pier itself.
"I bring a plastic bag every time sir, to pick up my litter," he said.
But Culpepper knows others do not. He has pictures of garbage on the pier to prove it.
"I think to address it they should put a trash can at the end. Maybe two. And maybe one in the middle," he suggested.
"We do not put trash cans on any of our piers," said Guulfport's director of Leisure Services.
George DeCoux says there's good reason.
"We learned a long time ago that if you put trash cans on the end of the piers, they end up being dumped into the Sound, which of course causes pollution," he explained.
Culpepper wonders, why not secure the cans with chains?
But DeCoux says chains don't stop vandals.
"At one time we did do that. But they would take the chain and the trash cans. And they've also been known to climb lights and take lights out," he said.
Broken lights line the Westside pier. Vandals have also beat or broken the plastic piling caps.
It's not just the public piers in Gulfport. WLOX News also checked ou the Kuhn Street pier, the Coliseum Pier and the Lighthouse Pier in Biloxi. At each one we found trash cans at the entrance, but none on the pier itself. And the director of the Biloxi Port Commission cites similar concerns about vandalism.
"I don't know the answer. It's an attitude of people. And if we could change their attitude, then I think we could put trash cans on the end of the piers," said DeCoux.
Until then, fishermen like Tony Culpepper will have to save their litter for the cans near the piers.
George DeCoux says vandals will go to great lengths to destroy even trash cans. He recalls one litter can that was chained to a pier. When vandals failed to break the chain, they broke the wooden boards around the secured can and tossed the whole thing into the water.