Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Sid Salter: Study Confirms More Rough Waters Ahead for Mississippi Shrimping, Fishing, & Oystering

Hurricanes have pounded the Mississippi Gulf Coast often over the last half-century and most Mississippians know that score by the shorthand of the names: Camille, Katrina, Elena, Georges, Ida, Rita and too many others to remember.

Then there were the environmental disasters – the BP Horizon Oil Spill, other pollution threats, the ongoing nightmare of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, and subsequent salinity concerns in the Mississippi Sound. Sprinkle in some difficult government regulations, the impacts of massive global competition and the aging and shrinking of the Mississippi fleet of fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen (and women in all those categories) and the fishing industry in Mississippi faces catastrophic threats.

Now comes the sobering but expected results of a new study requested by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources from the University of Southern Mississippi School of Ocean Science and Engineering researchers working with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium. Created in 1972, MASGC is one of 34 Sea Grant programs under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Consortium members include Auburn UniversityDauphin Island Sea LabJackson State UniversityMississippi State UniversityUniversity of AlabamaUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham, USM, and University of South Alabama.

The study found that a Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority plan to divert Mississippi River waters into the Breton Sound through the Mid-Breton Sediment Diversion would essentially obliterate oyster beds in the Mississippi Sound and in doing so impact the ecological benefits of how oysters help maintain and replenish the western and central Mississippi Sound’s eco-system.

Basically, the plan will result in impacts of the Bonnet Carre Spillway releases becoming more or less permanent with both salinity and the chemical content of the diverted waters ultimately impacting in the Mississippi Sound.

The once robust Mississippi fishing, shrimping and oystering industries have seen catastrophic threats for well over a decade. Efforts have been underway in conjunction with the Mississippi State University Extension Service to address those threats through education, information and research.

Ryan Bradley, executive director of Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, told Extension personnel in recent years of the struggles the non-profit organization of Gulf Coast fishing families face.

“This is a proud industry. We work hard. But it is a high-stress profession, and you have to be a thick-skinned person to do this job,” said Bradley, who is a fifth-generation commercial fisherman. “There is a lot of uncertainty in this industry right now and few coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with the stress. We had over 2,000 shrimp boats 12 years ago; now, we have less than 200. It’s such a volatile business now, that commercial fishermen are encouraging their children not to go into the business.”

The Mississippi seafood industry creates nearly 5,000 jobs and contributes around $250 million to the state’s economy. But Katrina knocked out about half the Mississippi shrimping fleet and oyster harvesting has been severely hampered by storms, the BP oil spill and Bonne Carre freshwater intrusions impacting salinity in the oyster beds and reefs in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

An MSU Films documentary series “The Hungriest State” ( episode offers a comprehensive look at the threats to Mississippi’s seafood industry and for the seafood industry in the wider Gulf of Mexico region.

The dangers aren’t all environmental. Much of it is market-driven as foreign competitors supply well over 92 percent of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. NOAA estimates that between 70 and 85 percent of all seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported.

Aquaculture is an important commodity for the state. Mississippi’s aquaculture has risen back to the top, ranking first in the U.S. with some 54 percent of all U.S. catfish produced in the state. 

But at this juncture, the Mid-Breton Sediment Diversion is the next in a series of dominoes to fall that ratchets up the treats to Mississippi and U.S. seafood production and the delicate eco-system balance in the Gulf.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

One factor they did not include is the amount of raw sewage that jackson is responsible for releasing into the Pearl which goes into the Gulf. The faster we bring that topic to the discussion and address it the better. Millions of gallons of sewage. Let that sink in. In the early 1900’s the MS Gulf Coast was the largest seafood producer in the world.

Anonymous said...

I buy wild caught shrimp from Rouse's in Gulf Shores AL, and farm raised in Kroger groceries in Jackson and Ridgeland. Price and quality have been dependable and stable.

Do Louisiana and/or MS grow farm raised shrimp?

Anonymous said...

This is demonstrably false article regarding the Mid Breton Diversion. There is no way water from the Mississippi river could reach state lines of Mississippi. The Breton Sound is enormous and full of water and ridges that would impede any fresh water from reaching and impacting Mississippi. Do better reporting and stop taking the bait of the lying/manipulative fishing industry.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he left out Hurricane Lumumba/Jackson with the huge shit Tsunami.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

With the shrimp industry (& other industry) effectively destroyed by imports (foreign competitors supply well over 92 percent of the shrimp consumed in the U.S.) the pressure on shrimp population on the coast should be lessen. Therefore, the shrimp population should rebound. I'm a fan of keeping jobs in the U.S. and we should put a tariff on imports which can be used to improve the US shrimp industry.
But foreign lobbyist in the US Capitol is padding the palms of Nancy Pelosi, Bennie Thompson, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and others and also all of their friends.

Anonymous said...

"There is no way water from the Mississippi river could reach state lines of Mississippi. "

Uh, the Mississippi River IS one of the state lines of Mississippi.


Anonymous said...

8:46, the proposed diversions are one on the east side of the river(Mid Breton), and one on the West(Mid Barataria). The one on the East side of the river could very well threaten Mississippi's coast including the Chandeleurs and Biloxi Marsh(technically in LA, but due south of Bay St. Louis. The amount of impact is determined by winds and tides. When the river is up out of Venice, and you have a SW wind, the salinity is affected even up into Mississippi. Now back the outflow up to the Reggio/Delacroix area and it will impact it more.

FanDango said...

@8:16 I'm surprised some enterprising plaintiffs' lawyer hasn't womped up a class action composed of landowners along the Pearl South of Jackson.

FanDango said...

@8:16 I am surprised that some enterprising plaintiffs' lawyer hasn't cooked up a class action by landowners along the Pearl south of Jackson.

Anonymous said...

So it’s A OK for protectionism for shrimp and oysters against Asia and our enemies but free markets to sell US taxpayer subsidized beans and chicken to Russia and China? Ah to double subsidize corn and force US drivers to use ethanol? And the double standards as always. Of course we can also, after getting subsidies or tariffs, criticize that same very generous Gubmint. Par for the course.

Anonymous said...

Shrimp Farming aquaculture is an enormously successful industry across the world, some grown in outdoor ponds, some indoors in tanks. Shrimp and Tilapia can be grown together. I enjoy catfish but let's grow shrimp in MS also!

Anonymous said...

Who cares what happens in Mississippi, it contributes nothing. Louisana has oil refining plants, pretty women, mardi gras, tourism and pretty women.

Anonymous said...

Check the country of origin on the box of 'farm raised' shrimp you buy at Kroger. Or, for that matter, on any package of tilapia, which simply means 'fish' in multiple languages.

Sid can probably remember, decades ago, when the oysters the rich folks dined on at his Neshoba cabin came from the Mississippi Coast.

Anonymous said...

Mornin', Mr Salter. Not much in the ol' mailbag today. Looks like just a circular from the shrimp lobby. Mebbe sumpin' better'll come along tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

You’re going to just ignore the plight of recreational fishermen, charter fishermen, and pleasure boaters Sid? Recreational fishing contributes far more. A pound of fish in the hands of a rec fisherman is far more valuable than a commercially caught fish. Boat manufacturers, boat dealers, tackle shops, bait shops fuel docks, etc. Look at how robust tourism and recreational fishing is in say OBA compared to the MGC. The shrimping lobby does everything it can to kill everyone else off. The commercial lobby is a bunch of Killem cowboys. The pogey fleet is the worst. The Bradley guy is a crackhead clown who is clearly being fed a script from someone smarter than him. The disaster that will unfold is about far more than an already declining seasonal industry full of part time jobs. Fully support the Barataria diversion, I was in a duck lease down there, the salt water intrusion and resulting land loss is shocking. They need the freshwater and the sediment.

Anonymous said...

I will proudly eat farm raised shrimp, whether it be produced domestically or overseas, if the shrimp lobby continues to block the placement of artificial reefs and the removal below the mudline of oil rigs. The systematic destruction of the greatest artificial reef complex the world has ever , complete with mature well developed coral attached to the rigs, is one of the greatest ecological disasters to ever happen in our country, and the greenies cheer it on.

Anonymous said...

Hey, 5:45. The "shrimp lobby"? I come from a shrimping family (Pascagoula) and my father spent years trying to get the shrimpers to organize to present a united front in Jackson. It never happened! Getting shrimpers to act in concert make herding cats look easy. There ain't no damn "shrimp lobby"! The casinos put the value of waterfront property so high in Biloxi that the shrimpers got squeezed out. And I'm ashamed to say that Pascagoula never stepped up and provided the dock space, the ice houses, the fueling centers to attract the displaced shrimpers, so they went to Bayou La Batre. Ride over there sometime and you'll see where the shrimpers went. And as to the Bonne Carre Spillway, hell yes it affects the Mississippi Coast. I live on a bayou in Pascagoula. When that fresh water came pouring in, the first thing I noticed was that the cranes and pelicans and herring disappeared overnight. The food chain was shot to hell. And my neighbor on the bayou who processes crabs didn't have any crabs to process. It's a damn serious problem, and unless y'all want your shrimp coming out of some Vietnamese sewer, you'd better start fighting back against the Corps of Engineers trying to overrule the natural processes of the Mississippi river.

Anonymous said...

@12:31: It’s a fact that Gollott single-handedly used his power to prevent more artificial reefs coming to Mississippi. Look at the artificial reef complexes in OBA and the panhandle versus here. That’s why. He was single handedly why. Apparently reefs the size of a pickup truck present an insurmountable obstacle to fishing in a Gulf that’s a few million square miles big. Apparently oil rigs that support unbelievable marine life that have the footprint of a house do the same. Even the larger rigs with multiple rigs strung together like the Triple Rig south of your hometown have a footprint of maybe 2-5 acres. With modern electronics and knowledge, these structures in no way impede navigation or shrimping. If you feel like they do you have no business being on the water. The shrimp lobby wants nothing but flat mud bottom in the entire gulf and they want to kill until they can’t. They are very much responsible for the cutting down and blowing up of rigs and killing millions of fish. Look in the mirror if you want to see a major reason for the decline of your industry. Y’all killed the golden goose.

I’ll whole heartedly agree with you regarding the BCS. The enemy of my enemy is my friend in this circumstance.

Anonymous said...

To be clear 5:45 you are absolutely right regarding Bonne Carre. But maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and evaluate the destructive practices and thought processes of the industry as well. We can coexist but it’s never seemed that shrimpers and other comm interests are willing to do what it takes to co exist

Anonymous said...

(East Palestine chemical spill would also like to enter the chat)

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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