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Local shrimpers, fishermen looking to the future after spillway impacts

Updated: Jul. 24, 2019 at 1:58 PM CDT
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PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - Local shrimpers and seafood businesses say even though the Bonnet Carre Spillway is closing, damage to their livelihood is already done.

"I’d definitely say that this year has been by far the worst brown shrimp season we’ve had here,” said Jeremy Forte with Forte Seafood in Pass Christian. “Normally, after the 4th of July, it seems like the tourism seems to settle down a little bit, so all that prior to that kind of hurt it.”

However, Forte also says they’re hoping salinity levels in the Mississippi Sound will continue to go up and they’ll continue to catch plenty of fish, which helps them mitigate the loss of decent size shrimp and crabs.

“We’ve been getting some nice fish in, some nice flounder, some nice speckled trout, so I think a lot of people enjoy eating those,” said Forte. “People always enjoy eating a nice fish, you know.”

And fish, Forte says, has been the silver lining in the spillway cloud.

“The salinity will definitely increase," he said. “It won’t take long for that to increase. Right now, we’re just hoping the white shrimp season in the fall kind of picks everything up compared to what the brown shrimp were, so that’s one thing we can hope for."

The spillway was opened 76 days ago to control flooding along the Mississippi River. The Army Corps of Engineers expects a full closure within the week. But even after it is closed, the Corps says there will be a significant amount of water left in the spillway basin that has to drain.

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