Hurricane hurts charter boat fishing industry

Public perceptions about Hurricane Isaac have hurt the charter boat fishing industry on the coast. Customers have been canceling trips, fearing the damage from the storm was far worse than reality.
Public perceptions about Hurricane Isaac have hurt the charter boat fishing industry on the coast. Customers have been canceling trips, fearing the damage from the storm was far worse than reality.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Negative public perceptions following Hurricane Isaac are hurting the charter boat fishing industry. Customers have been canceling trips in the wake of the storm. And it couldn't have come at a worse time.

One longtime charter boat captain told WLOX News,"There's a lot of fish, but no fishermen."

Unfortunately, it's a scenario they've become accustomed to in recent years, as a series of disasters threatened their industry.

"Overall, our business is struggling. It is," said longtime Captain Jay Trochesset.

He understands fishermen are known for stretching the truth. But the hard reality is that perceptions about Hurricane Isaac have the charter fishing industry reeling.

"Very negative. Perception is terrible. People think that nothing's going on, it hurt fishing. And in fact, it just slowed the fishing down for about a week. But fishing is great out there," said Trochesset.

Customers have canceled trips in Isaac's wake. Captain Trochesset estimates his business is off by about 40 percent. And he's certainly not alone.

"See, you look right now in the marina here and there's very few boats out," said Captain Tom Becker.

The president of the Charter Boat Association said first fuel prices spiked, then the storm rolled through.

"We had to cancel some trips for it. The people have got a perception. They're hearing about the floods. Well, we didn't get flooded right here on the coast," said Captain Becker.

The storm couldn't have come at a worse time. Many of the charter boat fishermen were experiencing a decent summer season and beginning to recover from the impact of the oil spill. And now this.

"You know, it's just now starting to pick up.  Now the phone is starting to ring," said Johnathan Cecil.

He said the charter boats he works for were also affected by that "hurricane perception problem."

"A lot of people. That's what Mikey Moore, the owner, said. A lot of people believed that we got hit really hard," said Cecil.

"Charter boat industry has been hit so hard with the oil spill, and prior to that the economic problems, and now this hurricane. We're pretty, we're behind a rock and a hard place," said Captain Trochesset.

He said August, September and October offers some of the best offshore fishing in South Mississippi. With the fish ready to bite, he and other captains are hoping customers will be booking some trips soon.

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