Commercial fishermen still struggling five years after BP spill - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Commercial fishermen still struggling five years after BP spill

A brief test trawl for shrimp just south of the Pascagoula shoreline produced just a handful of shrimp.  (Photo source: WLOX) A brief test trawl for shrimp just south of the Pascagoula shoreline produced just a handful of shrimp. (Photo source: WLOX)
Shrimp season in Mississippi waters traditionally opens in early June. (Photo source: WLOX) Shrimp season in Mississippi waters traditionally opens in early June. (Photo source: WLOX)
MISSISSIPPI SOUND (WLOX) -

Five years after the disaster, commercial fishermen say they're still feeling the impact of the BP oil spill. A longtime Vietnamese shrimper and oyster fishermen took invited guests on a boat trip Friday to discuss the ongoing struggles he faces.

Captain Bien Do eased his 65 foot shrimp boat out of Mary Walker Bayou. Though he has been making a living on the water for more than six decades, this trip is purely educational.

This veteran shrimper and oysterman, along with his wife, are sharing the plight of the commercial fisherman five years removed from the BP oil spill disaster.

“BP needs to tell the truth. The whole truth. It's not better, far from being recovered. Our communities are still facing ongoing impacts. Particularly the impacts to the fisheries and has greatly impacted their livelihoods and caused great economic hardship for them,” said Thao Vu, a community advocate representing the Mississippi Coalition of Vietnamese American Fisher Folks & Families.

A brief test trawl for shrimp just south of the Pascagoula shoreline produced just a handful of shrimp. Still, visiting researchers and journalists get a better idea of what effort goes into a typical shrimping trip.

“That's one of the things, talking with the captain, that he felt strongly about was monitoring and how continuing to do monitoring is a critical component, not just post-BP oil spill, but just in general. To assess what the status of the fisheries and the shrimp oyster populations are,” said Steve Sempier, Deputy Director for the Mississippi Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.

A second trawl yields more than a dozen decent shrimp. The upcoming shrimp season may hold promise, but the bigger concern for Do is the disappointing oyster harvest.

He says an oyster relay, using fishermen to help transfer healthy, young oysters onto the reefs, is badly needed for restoration.

“For the oyster relay, it's extremely important, because it's been successfully implemented before and it helped restore the oyster reefs. So, they know from previous experience that should be done again,” Vu explained.

Do once owned six boats and made a decent living harvesting shrimp and oysters, but after Katrina then the oil spill, he doubts he'll ever see such success again.

Mississippi has seen a "limited" oyster season in recent years.Shrimp season in Mississippi waters traditionally opens in early June.

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