Coast fishermen, seafood related businesses welcome disaster declaration

Published: Sep. 25, 2019 at 8:48 PM CDT
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PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - The federal fisheries disaster declaration was certainly welcomed by fishermen and seafood sales businesses along the Coast Wednesday.

Because of the algae bloom, the seafood industry has been hit hard. But even in the midst of crisis, there are pockets of success.

Business is steady for the Cajun Maid at the Pass Christian Harbor.

“Every day, people come up here every single day to buy shrimp,” said deckhand Britt Roberts.

And the boat slips there aren’t as crammed with idle trawlers.

“There are some in here, but not many because they have to feed their family, and they have to make a living,” Roberts said. “So, they have to go out there and put their nets in the water.”

As in the case of the Cajun Maid, some shrimpers are actually doing okay. They just have to spend a little more money and go out farther, but they say any federal money would be a great help.

“They’d be very happy to have some relief from not being able to fish in the Sound,” Roberts said. “That’s where we should be able to fish.”

Roberts said in the meantime, shrimpers are helping each other stay above water.

“They’re dedicated. They’re hardcore,” he said. “Day in, day out, no matter what they’ve got to do. They’re going to supply the public with shrimp.”

Jerry Forte Seafood is also seeing good business in the Pass Christian Harbor after a rough start to the summer.

While Jeremy Forte would prefer Mississippi Sound shrimp, he says the Louisiana ones will do just fine.

“The shrimp we’re getting right are beautiful. They’re fresh,” he said. “And they’re about as good of a quality as you’re going to get right now.”

While federal money to help make up for lost revenues would be welcomed, he’s more concerned about building the oyster reefs back.

“All you can do is just hope for three or four years of good water quality to get our reefs back to where they are‚” he said. “And that declaration is a big step toward possibly getting them back the way they were because we’re definitely going to need assistance in doing all that.”

Details of when and how fishermen will apply for federal disaster aid must be worked out, but it’s likely that the Department of Marine Resources will administer the relief program.

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