Is South Mississippi's Seafood Industry Recovering?

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - This week, South Mississippians will celebrate a Biloxi tradition - the annual Seafood Festival.

At one time, Biloxi was considered the seafood capital of the world. The industry has changed quite a bit over the years. Casinos and the aftermath of Katrina are posing a whole new generation of challenges.

"The price of the land has increased so much, so a lot of the factories have sold their property to the casinos," Biloxi Councilman George Lawrence said. "The beachfront has always changed, but it's how we do from here to what's Biloxi is going to look like."

With the increasing cost of gas, many say it's harder for shrimpers to maintain the boats. Many in the Vietnamese community are moving to nearby Bayou la Batre, Alabama because of the increased cost of living in South Mississippi. Not to mention the fact that imported seafood is hurting the economy.

"What we have to get across is that imported shrimp, imported seafood is not the way to go. Buy local, wild shrimp that are from the Gulf Coast and from America," Gina Ross-Seamans said.

Shrimping goes back at least six generations in Seamans' family.

"They decided to raise the family here in Biloxi and shrimping was their background, and boat building and anything else you can imagine," she said.

Seamans said while business is getting better for her family, the only way to salvage South Mississippi's seafood industry is for consumers to buy locally.