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Charter Boat Captains Struggling to Bounce Back from Oil Spill

By Rhonda Miller | Published 22 Mar 2011 10:55am | comments
Captain Tom Becker on his boat Skipper at Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi.

Mississippi charter boat captains are having a tough time bouncing back from the BP oil spill. MPB's Rhonda Miller reports that to top it off, captains are annoyed at seeing Louisiana boats working from a Biloxi marina. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports.

The water is sparkling at Point Cadet Marina where Captain Tom Becker is doing a repair on his charter fishing boat named Skipper. Becker would rather be taking people out fishing.

"Oh, I averaged about anywhere from 125 to 150 trips a year," Becker says.

That was before Hurricane Katrina and before the BP oil spill. This season, Becker doesn't have much to count.

'I’ve had...fishing trips? I’ve had three," he says.

Becker is president of the Mississippi Charter Boat Captain’s Association. He says many captains were glad to get work on BP clean-up operations. Now Mississippi captains are frustrated seeing some boats with Louisiana identification working out of the Biloxi marina.

Ray Melick is the spokesman for BP’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Restoration Organization in Gulfport.

"There were some Louisiana boats that were specific, needed boats that service the barge industry," Melick says. "They have been there all along and continue to be there. I think there are seven of those. Right now five of the seven are captained by Mississippi captains, even though the boats are Louisiana boats."

Melick says the Louisiana boats are hired by one of BP’s contractors.

"We’re in conversation with them daily to say, if all things are equal we want Mississippi people working, we want Mississippi boats," Melick says.

He says BPs clean-up crews have been reduced from 700 people to 150, because of bird nesting season, and work will pick up again in a few months.

Melick says BP is sponsoring events to attract visitors to the Gulf Coast and publishing brochures to let people know Mississippi seafood is safe. 

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Captain Tom Becker on his boat Skipper at Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi.


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