MSM 699 Thomas J. Schultz, Jr. - The Life of a Gulf Coast Shrimper

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After the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill of 2010, NOAA asked us to conduct an oral history project to preserve the stories of those who fished the Gulf for a living. What one hears in these interviews a decade later is a myriad of emotions: pride in the past, exasperation at the evolving markets and conditions, and fear for the future. This week, we return to the interview of Thomas Schultz, junior, a fifth generation fisherman who, though he had retired, was still very much involved with preserving a way of life that he felt was slipping away.

2011 - Before the days of motorized fishing boats, fishermen relied on manpower and the wind to ply their trade. In this episode, Thomas Schultz of Biloxi describes how his father’s family would row a skiff thirty miles to sell their catch.

Schultz spent decades catching and selling shrimp with his own shrimp boats. He recalls being out in the Gulf for weeks at a time and how the price of shrimp has fluctuated. After Schultz retired from shrimping, he remained active with the Southern Shrimp Alliance, a group of industry professionals dedicated to ensuring “the continued vitality and existence of the U.S. shrimp industry.” He explains why he thinks the threat that shrimping poses to the sea turtle population has been greatly exaggerated.

According to Schultz commercial fishing is a great life and allowed him to provide for his family. He worries that pollution and government regulations are discouraging the next generation of fishermen.

PHOTO: robertstjohn.com

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