Coast Fishermen Ask NOAA For Federal Help

"Sad and pitiful" is how Steve Garlotte describes the state of the fishing industry on the coast after Katrina.

Garlotte, a coast fisherman, was one of about 50 people who went to a meeting in Biloxi Tuesday, to find out what is being done and what can be done.

The federal agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is traveling the gulf to get input from fishermen. Tuesday's meeting was a chance for coast fishermen to voice their opinions.

Those at the meeting told NOAA representatives that the infrastructure for the industry is gone. Few docks, seafood processing plants and marinas remain.

More than anything though, those down here on the coast say, we need some federal money.

"The folks in Washington have to help us down here," Tom McIlwain said.

McIlwain works for the Gulf Coast Research Lab. He says the situation here now, is unprecedented.

Tom Becker was on hand representing charter boat captains. He says they are facing a tough dilemma as well.

"We actually have a number of charter boats that are operating," Becker told WLOX News.

"The problem is we don't have the customers. People don't realize we are back in business to a degree."

There are no quick fixes or easy solutions. NOAA's Scott Rayder asked the fishermen to be patient. He is confident Washington will provide more financial assistance.

As to how long before this industry is back to where it was pre-Katrina, Gulf Coast Research Lab's Tom McIlwain says it will be at least five years.