The peaceful waters of the Pascagoula River will soon become home to 2,500 Florida Large Mouth Bass fish. The first lady of Mississippi, Marsha Barbour, came down and suited up in her lifejacket to hit the water. She says the Pascagoula river brings to mind another well-known river.
"I went out there before the storm, and it reminds me of the Amazon River, because it's in such a natural state," says Marsha Barbour, First Lady of Mississippi.
The Department for Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks chose fish 6 to 10 inches in length, because larger fish tend to live longer. The goal is to put 10,000 fish in the river by the end of the month. Department workers tagged the fish so their movement and survival can be monitored for research. Those involved with the project say the fish release will help the coast's environmental and economic future.
"It's going to have a good economic impact. It's going to increase the fishing. More people will come down to try this river out, and it'll bring tourism into this area," says Ron Garavelli, Mississippi Department of Wildlfe, Fisheries and Parks Director.
One of the project's partners, Mississippi Power, has pledged $40,000 for the next two years to help get more fish in the water and more people on the river.
"We certainly hope this is the beginning of restoring the river to its pre-Katrina condition," says John Atherton, Mississippi Power, Vice President of External Affairs.
Barbour says restoring the river's wildlife is another positive sign of the coast's recovery.
"Anytime I can come to the coast and see some steps in the right direction, it's refreshing to me and heart-warming."