DMR calls algal blooms unusual; fisherman sounds off - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

DMR calls algal blooms unusual; fisherman sounds off

Miller believes the frequency of the red tide problem is new. (Photo source: WLOX News) Miller believes the frequency of the red tide problem is new. (Photo source: WLOX News)
DMR hopes to have coastal resources available soon. (Photo source: WLOX News) DMR hopes to have coastal resources available soon. (Photo source: WLOX News)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

Beaches are closed, dead fish are washing up on beaches in heaps, and the oyster season is shut down.

According to the Department of Marine Resources, it's all because of an unprecedented red tide rolling through South Mississippi's waters. 

But, not everyone is buying the explanation. Many insiders say the maritime industry is simply not the same as it used to be, and ishermen claim to be low on resources — and on luck.

"I'm very concerned about our business, our survival rate in it," said James "Catfish" Miller.

Miller grew up on the water as a third generation fisherman. Now, because of limited time on the oyster reefs, he says he's struggling to pay the bills. Miller believes the frequency of the red tide problem is new.

"I mean, it's here and we've never had these problems before," said Miller.

But, DMR says that's simply not the case because algal blooms have been around for a while.

"They are historic, natural events that have occurred here on the coast for as long as we've been here," said office director, Joe Jewell.

Jewell's explanation is what fishermen like Miller are contesting. Miller says he's seen a frequency in algal blooms in the past five years since the BP oil spill.

"They keep coming back. They keep telling us it's the red tide. It's not. It's oil plumes and dispersant," said Miller.

However, the DMR says that's not so. According to Jewell, most of the algal blooms have been found south of the islands.

"We shut down the oyster reefs as a precautionary measure," Jewell noted. "Generally, our water temperatures and our air temperatures are cool enough that it suppresses a bloom of this nature and this size."

With recent warmer temperatures, Jewell says the conditions are right for algal growth, and DMR hopes to make coastal resources as stable as possible.

With cool and breezy conditions on the way, Jewell hopes the blooms will be dispersed soon and allow oyster season to re-open.

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