It’s time for the fishermen to fix up their boats and get ready for the 2015 shrimping season. The fishermen at the Biloxi dock have been working on their boats for the past month, and now they are getting ready to fill up their boat and heading out.
I visited some of the local fishermen at the Biloxi Lighthouse Harbor and asked them about what they think of this year shrimping season. Their response was that every other year at this time, they are out there catching shrimp already, but this year they kind of slow. They also say that a lot of them are upgrading their fishing gear from wooden doors to aluminum doors. They also are changing their trawl from nylon to sapphire webbing to help them save some fuel.
It has been a busy time checking in with the fishermen and helping them make sure their boats are ready for shrimp season. I’ve also been talking with them about fatalities in the Gulf of Mexico and the importance of the safety of their crew when they are working on the open water.
Every year when I do dock visiting I always remind the fishermen about safety and how to use a life raft. I remind them to do their safety training drills with their crew each month. It’s very important, and it can save lives. I know how dangerous it is out there. When you are working in bad weather or on open water, things can happen unexpectedly. Always wear your life vest and radio to another boat when you are operating a boat at nighttime when your crew is sleeping and you have to pick up your test trawl.
I am certified from the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association as a marine safety instructor, so my job is to instruct fishermen and let them know that they have a former Vietnamese fisherman working at Sea Grant and the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center who will always be there for them and help them in any way.
I’ve also been talking with Mr. Troy Rentz of Seattle, Washington. He is a coordinator from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Alternate Compliance and Safety Agreement program, and he said there are new regulations to take place in 2020. The Coast Guard is interested in learning what fishermen think will help make them safer. In the future, the fishermen will have the opportunities to suggest safety measures, and Troy suggests that fishermen share their ideas when the time comes.