Charter boat captains speak on Bonnet Carre Spillway’s impact on tourism

The Bonnet Carre Spillway did more than just impact the seafood industry on the coast. It also impacted the number of tourists who visit.
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 5:41 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The Bonnet Carre Spillway did more than just impact the seafood industry on the coast. It also impacted the number of tourists who visit.

For almost 50 years, charter boat captain Jay Trochesset has been making a living off commercial fishing. He’s dealt with many challenges in the industry, one of the greatest being the impact of the fresh water dumped into the Gulf when the Bonnet Carre Spillway is opened.

“In my business, it makes it harder to catch fish because of its enclosure because of all the water when they open it up, so we have to go out further,” Trochesset said.

Trochesset relies on tourists who come to Biloxi to fish. He takes daily tours into the Mississippi Sound. In recent years, toxins from the spillway have decreased the number of fish they catch which drives tourists away.

That means less money for everyone.

“Not just charter boats. The restaurants. People that come down to buy seafood. It’s a trickledown effect, it affects everybody,” Trochesset said.

Once considered the seafood capital of the world, Biloxi still lures visitors who enjoy catching and eating seafood.

According to Biloxi mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich, the Federal Court ruling which requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consult the National Marine Fisheries about the Bonnet Carre Spillway will give cities like Biloxi a say on a topic that impacts the city’s economy.

“This decision, which gives us at least a seat on the table, before the corps of engineers and the fisheries would do what, they thought was necessary,” Gilich said.

Even though the decision is a victory, charter boat captains hope more is done than just being warned about the spillway opening beforehand.

“They may consult them and let them know, but it’s not going to stop it. They must come up with another plan. Control so much until it clears out. I don’t know what they can do,” Captain Troy Fountain said.

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