Uncertainties haunt Buras marina

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 20, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 21 at 6:52 AM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News

BURAS, La. -- Spring is the season of hope, and at Joshua's Marina in Buras there are high hopes at the start of the new fishing season. Yale Barrois brought in 700 pounds of white shrimp.

"The shrimp's beautiful," he said. "Nothing wrong with them. I eat them. I give them to my family. Matter of fact, I'm going to bring some home, we're going to fry some in a little while."

"The (Wildlife and Fisheries) told me it looks pretty good, a lot of brown shrimp are showing up," said Rocky Ditcharo of Ditcharo's Seafood. "Statewide, it looks pretty good."

When the oil spill happened last April, it wiped out hope and ignited fear at Ditcharo's Seafood. Business was cut in half, profits dropped 75 percent.

"All these boats should be making money right now. Right now!" said Mike Berthelot of Ditcharo's Seafood last May 6.

"That freezer should be full," said Derek Ditcharo the same day. "You shouldn't even be able to walk in there at this time of the year."

It was so scary, lifelong fishermen wondered if there was a future for them and their families.

"I can't even sleep myself at night time," said Berthelot as his son sat by his side. "I have a 9-year-old son. I've been teaching him everything about this dock, I've been here 34 years, and myself, I don't know which way to go now."

One year later, Mike Berthelot still worries.

"The shrimp is here, and there's nothing to be scared about, but I think there's a lot to be scared about," he said.

"We back, we ready, but I'm not excited," Ditcharo said. "I come here, I'm not even happy to be here right now."

But as the new fishing season gets under way, so many uncertainties remain. A prime one is when people across America begin to believe that seafood from Louisiana is safe and not still tainted with oil.

"Nationwide, worldwide, it's the people need to know it's good stuff where they'll pay for it," said Barrois. "If they think it's bad seafood they ain't gonna go eat it."

The other big fear, what if more oil surfaces?

"They got oil in the water, shrimp being caught, demand nationally will drop, prices will drop, fuel prices going up, boats won't work," Ditcharo said. "Then we have a problem, a bad problem."

Ask those in the fishing business about the struggle to survive, and don't be surprised if you hear anger directed at Ken Feinberg's oil spill claims fund.

"Him!" exclaimed Barrois. "I'd like to see that guy just one time where I could tell him what I think about him."

"We got 20 percent of that claim," fumed Rocky. "I had deckhands of boats get more money than what we received on this shrimp dock right here."

It is a new year, but people here still wonder whether the oil spill changed the future of fishing in Southeast Louisiana.

"At one time I wanted my kids to do this, but I been investing the little money I got into college for my kids because I don't want them to take this footstep, and go through the same thing I been going through. There's no future for them," worried Berthelot.

 

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