A shrimp boat captain worries and waits

NO CaptDixon

CHALMETTE, La. - Sixty miles off the Gulf of Mexico, the shrimpers and the people who work for them here worry and wait in a world of hurt. Their boats are tied up. They are not heading out to get shrimp as they do every year in May. Instead, they are waiting to be called by BP to help clean up the oil that is spreading over the waters following last month's oil rig explosion.

"The people here make their living off those same Gulf waters they keep showing on television," said David Dixon, a boat captain who has been a Bayou shrimper for 48 years. Dixon catches shrimp, minnows and crickets which he sells at his live bait shop here which, according to his business card, is "open seven days, early til late."

"Everybody is afraid, everybody is hurting and we feel that there will be no way to recover from this oil spill," he said. "We were very slow to recover from Katrina and just as we were starting to come around this had to happen."

A mile down the road Jeff Pohlmann, the owner of Today's Ketch, a small fresh seafood restaurant, said, "The hurricane destroyed the boats of the people who delivered to me, but this oil spill can destroy the very product we depend upon."

Today's Ketch was the first place in St. Bernard's Parish where people could get hot food after Katrina. Pohlmann was working his business "around the clock" even before he had a home to live in. His employees lived in trailers in the parking lot.

"People here have house and boat notes they have to pay," Pohlmann said. "They are the ones who came back after the storm. Now they can't fish. You can't pay the bills with no money. This will destroy the economy and our way of life, maybe forever." As he spoke, a dozen local people in his little restaurant were enjoying what he said could be the last fresh shrimp sandwiches of the season.

Captain Dixon said his only chance to make money this shrimp season will be if he gets called by BP to help lay the protective boons the company hopes will slow the oil slick's relentless movement toward the shores.

As he invited People's World reporters onto his boat this week, Dixon said he was not optimistic about anything BP is currently doing about the disaster.

"I attended a training session this morning that BP held for us, thinking they might have some type of plan," he said. "Instead, they were asking us what we thought should be done - how much of the area did we think they should be protecting with those booms and so on and so forth."

He said, "A BP representative drove me around in a golf cart to survey an area and when I asked him about how or if or when this leak might stop, he told me, 'We don't know. It could be three months, it could be six months, it could be six years - we have no idea'."

As he showed us around his boat Dixon said he feared that fishing may be destroyed forever in the region. "The chemicals they are dropping to disperse the oil could end up destroying the ability of marine life to reproduce for many generations into the future," he said, "and that would mean disaster even if they do stop the oil before it comes up into these marshes."

"I need the money and I know they'll call me to lay those booms," he said, as we stepped off his boat. "But that's not what I was meant to be doing. I don't want to do that. I'm supposed to be bringing in the shrimp."

Photo: Captain David Dixon aboard his shrimp boat. (PW/Blake Deppe)


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  • Been looking to run 65orbigger s hrimpboat for fish house or a owner I live in nc I'm 57 years old shrimped since I was13 I don't do drugs clean reliable run shrimp boats of all sßizes.have experience not bragging.need work at what I do best.I'm trustworthy and fair.expect crew to be same.I just need to get back on the ocean.

    Posted by maurice mann, 12/17/2013 8:35pm (2 years ago)

  • looking for a shrimp boat to run for someone at least 65 feet or more anyone nos something call me imavailable for now.i live in nc im 56 years old experienced.call 910-595-4052 thank you

    Posted by mauricemann, 02/13/2013 9:16pm (3 years ago)

  • I'm looking for work on a shrimp boat! Anyone out there need a strong reliable crew. I am willing to travel.


    Posted by Cham, 03/06/2011 4:05am (5 years ago)

  • can use 5K lb a week call me Mike 847-329-9890

    Posted by Michael, 08/24/2010 5:40pm (5 years ago)

  • La.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 05/16/2010 9:50pm (6 years ago)

  • Given the thousands and thousands of unemployed and future less,homeless and ruined workers in LA,should not this be the site of a massive jobs,jobs,jobs experiment to bring a new new deal economic recovery to this region,especially since this late crisis of the BP gush is in the mix?
    The unions here featured in this excellent article and that of Tony Pecinovsky would take the lead,bring this struggle to the central labor councils and have similar struggles replicated all over our double digit unemployed racked country.
    With the rippling effect of food inflation this oil gush will cause piloted but the proven inept BP,all regions of the country need the massive jobs programs Rich Trumka has been urging for months.
    The unemployed,homeless and hungry(hungry in more ways than one)need organization to stem the hurt of an economy of Wall Street while Main Streets are left in almost total ruin.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 05/16/2010 3:46pm (6 years ago)

  • really enjoy this article; other ones as well!

    Posted by sam webb, 05/16/2010 1:09pm (6 years ago)

  • The oil release (it has long passed spill) will take a generation to recover from, if then.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 05/15/2010 6:03am (6 years ago)

  • BP is taking a good look at how Exxon destroyed the Prince William Sound fisheries and weaseled out of paying essentially all of the damages they owed.

    Posted by Jesse Jack, 05/14/2010 11:01pm (6 years ago)

  • Writing like this brings it home, makes it personal. Good work, John.

    Posted by Seymour Joseph, 05/14/2010 2:43pm (6 years ago)

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