Holloway: Fisherman will be part of city’s future

Mayor A.J. Holloway said that remnants of the Golden Fisherman statue will have to be evaluated to determine the landmark’s future, once a criminal case involving its theft has run it course.

Biloxi Police, who worked with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department to recover the statue from a creek in rural Mobile County, returned the dismembered work of art to the city today. Police said they had arrested a Semmes, Ala., man in connection with the case, and an investigation is continuing.

A flatbed truck carrying the statue’s torso, legs and arms arrived mid-afternoon and a city Public Works crew temporarily stored the pieces in a downtown warehouse, where it had been too large to house.

“The Fisherman is sort of like the city itself,” Holloway said. “It’s bruised and beaten up, but it’s not destroyed. We’ve lost so many landmarks, so many pieces of our history, that it’s important that we now have it back. This is not about a statue, per se. This is a tribute to the thousands of people who made Biloxi the seafood capital of the world, and to those who work in this important industry today. It’s about Biloxi — past, present and future.”

Holloway commended the Biloxi Police Department for its efforts in the case, and he also noted that a number of local and out-of-town individuals and business owners have offered to help in any future plans the city has involving the Golden Fisherman.

The city-owned statue, which weighed more than a ton and once stood more than 17 feet tall, had been stolen from Point Cadet Plaza sometime Saturday night or early Sunday morning. The golden figure of a beak-nosed fisherman, with outstretched arms hoisting a castnet, had been damaged and knocked off its pedestal by Hurricane Katrina.

Although known as the Golden Fisherman, the hollow statue was believed to be constructed of phosphor bronzes, or tin bronzes, which are alloys containing copper, tin and phosphorous, which resisted corrosion. Ocean Springs artist Harry Reeks, who the city commissioned to create the statue in 1975, also used melted-down winches and cleats and other fixtures that had been donated from local shrimp boats. Said Holloway: “It had no huge value as far as precious metals, but it was precious to those families and to this community.”

In fact, the city was to unveil the results of that effort in late 2005 until Hurricane Katrina interrupted those plans. The storm’s winds and surge destroyed landscaping, sidewalks and benches that had been installed at the statue’s waterfront site at Point Cadet.

“We’ll determine the next step in due time,” Holloway said. “Right now, you have to remember that the parts of this statue that have been recovered are evidence in a criminal case. But, rest assured, the Golden Fisherman or his remains will be part of our future, just as the seafood industry itself will be.”
Photos of return

—To see photos of the Golden Fisherman, pre-Katrina and its return today, click here.