Charter Boat Captains Question EPA Pollution Report

A new EPA pollution report claims the worst coastal waters in America are in the Gulf of Mexico.

But some charter boat captains who fish those waters take issue with the government findings. Fishermen say while certain areas of the Gulf may be troubled, the offshore waters near Mississippi are not.

Charter boat captains at the Broadwater Marina take tourists 20 to 50 miles offshore, where the waters are clear and the fish are plentiful.

Pat Foster spent the morning with his power sander. He's getting his 41-foot Hatteras in shape for the upcoming red snapper season. Foster has been involved in offshore fishing for more than 30 years and doesn't believe the EPA report which suggests the Gulf of Mexico has significant problems with pollution.

"No, not as bad as they say. I think it's in areas like the mouth of the river. They've got some spots out there in the Gulf. But around here it's good fishing and it's picking up," Foster said.

The president of the Mississippi charter boat captain's association also has problems with the federal findings. Tom Becker began charter fishing trips 17 years ago. His experience suggests an improvement in offshore waters.

"Where we fish, 300 times a year the boats out of here, we don't see it. It's not polluted. It's actually cleaner than it has been in years gone by," Becker said.

Charter boat captains we talked with say competition and regulations have had the biggest impact on fishing, not pollution. But they admit pollution in the gulf may be more of a factor just west of here, toward the mouth of the Mississippi.

"We've got bigger cities to the west of us and the stuff is coming down the river, we know that. And I think that's affecting offshore. But as far as around this area, no, it doesn't even come up in here," Becker said.

That means cleaner water and steady business for those who depend on fishing the gulf waters.