On May 2nd, 2010, 12 days following the explosion and fire of the Deepwater Horizon, N.O.A.A. closed 6,817 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico to commercial and recreational fishing. This was done to ensure potentially contaminated seafood would not enter markets and pose a risk to human health. Lonnie Bobinger, a bait shop owner, says, "When you do something 46, 47 years and all of a sudden you don't have it no more, it’s a lot of stress." Bobinger has been selling live bait to fishermen on the Coast for almost 50 years, but since the BP oil spill in 2010, he says business has not been the same. If it's been tough for those catching the fish, imagine what it's like for those providing the bait.
Ross Broussard, a fisherman, says, "It dropped it down 90%. Anybody who had a bait shop because of the oil and they had the waters closed.” After the spill, 95% of Mississippi Gulf water was closed off, and even though the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) gave the green light to reopen the water for fishermen almost a year later, consumers were not convinced the catch was suitable for eating. Broussard also says, "Well we had to shut down for I think it was 65 days, something like that."
Bobinger also says, "Then after that, when the water opened back up, we still had people who won’t go because well their wife was afraid to eat it or they were afraid of it anyways. It killed business bad." The seafood industry is starting to make a comeback, but the jury is still out on the long term effects of the spill. Bobinger believes that there is still a layer of oil at the bottom of the ocean that could cause problems in the future. Bobinger closes, "The more they talk about the oil out there, still oil out there on the bottom out there, that doesn't encourage people to go fishing."
Four years later and the Coast's fishing industry is still feeling the pain from the oil spill, but this bait shop in Biloxi has something bigger to look forward to. It's spreading its net to a better location, a brand new bait shop at the small craft harbor this summer.