BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Local bait shop owners say they’re having a hard time keeping bait alive as trillions of gallons of freshwater continues to spill into the Mississippi Sound following the opening of the Bonnet Carre.
At the Gulfport Harbor bait shop, customers keep asking for live shrimp but shop owners are having to refuse them, saying they can’t keep them alive.
AJ Moody, the man behind the counter at the Gulfport Bait Shop, only had two very small shrimp in his tanks. Normally, it would be filled with decent sized shrimp but Moody says the freshwater has been killing them and stunting their growth.
“You add saltwater to [the tanks] and they still die,” a frustrated Moody said.
He's hoping something happens to reverse the damage that's been done.
Coastal mayors are set to meet Tuesday to discuss the impacts the Bonnet Carre spillway has had on the Mississippi Sound.
“I had some fishermen buddies of mine out there yesterday and you could drink the water on top,” Moody said about the quality of the water.
The fishermen say there is absolutely no salt water in the sound, which could explain why dead animals are washing ashore.
“We are down to, like I said, 0 ppt on the salinity,” said Coast fisherman Randall Broussard.
“From 18 to 20 ppt down to 0 in the last two weeks,” Moody added.
Those who earn their bread and butter from the water say they need some kind of relief because they cannot keep the shrimp alive.
“We are just all trying to make an honest living but that Bonnet Carre spillway is affecting the bait industry and it’s going to affect the commercial shrimping industry,” said Moody.
They say history backs up the growing concerns about how this will affect the upcoming shrimp and oyster seasons.
“Just about wiped the oyster season out every time they opened the Bonnet Carre," Broussard added.
The fisherman are also waiting to see what other things might happen when the Morganza Spillway is opened in June.
Another town hall meeting is scheduled for Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the D’Iberville Town Green.