Holloway: Let’s make the Golden Fisherman a landmark “for the ages”

Here is the text, as prepared, of remarks that Mayor A.J. Holloway made to the Biloxi Businessmen’s Club during a luncheon on April 8, 2004.

Thank you for having me here today.

We have a number of major projects taking place in all areas of our city, and today I want to announce the kick off of a new initiative.

It’s a project that pays tribute to an industry that made this city famous.

And it’s a project that – more importantly – recognizes the thousands of families here in Biloxi who helped make Biloxi the seafood capital of the world.

In the past decade or so, a lot of attention has been focused on the casino industry and what it has meant to our economy and our way of life.

There’s no question that our way of life has changed – and continues to improve every day.

And with all of the excitement that we’ve seen on our waterfront, some people may forget about the seafood industry – and what it has meant and continues to mean to our city and our economy.

I did some checking with the Department of Marine Resources, and some of the figures may surprise some of you.

Here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we have 10,000 acres of public oyster reefs that produce more than 400,000 sacks of oysters per year.

We are one of the main shrimp and oyster-producing areas for the southeastern United States.

Last year alone, more than 6 million pounds of shrimp were harvested, along with 1 million pounds of hard shell and soft shell crabs, and 4 million pounds of oyster meat.

Right now, we have more than 800 licensed local commercial shrimpers and more than 400 local recreational shrimpers. There are more than 200 commercial oystermen.

On top of that, there are about 600 local recreational crabbers and almost 300 local commercial crabbers.

I know, that’s a lot of numbers, but remember this one: According to the DMR, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is home to a $650 million dockside seafood industry.

That’s a significant investment, and I’m proud to say it all started right here in Biloxi – many, many years ago.

Today, I’m announcing that we are launching a project to recognize all of those who are involved in the seafood industry here in Biloxi – past, present and future.

As many of you know, we moved the Golden Fisherman from its pedestal in downtown Biloxi to the waterfront at Point Cadet.

At one time, the base around the fisherman featured plaques bearing the names of the families who worked in the seafood industry.

We’re talking about hundreds of names – and nearly all of you families in this room, in fact – whose names were on the plaques.

We’re talking about the who’s who of the seafood capital of the world.

We want this to be a fitting tribute to those who helped build Biloxi’s legendary seafood industry and are continuing to help keep it an important part of our economy – and a way of life here in Biloxi.

And that’s where you come in.

We’re going to be publicizing the list of names that we have, and we’re asking the public to help us update it.

If you know of a name that’s not on this list and should be included, we want to hear from you. Jot down the name and why it should be added to the list and send it to me.

The seafood industry always has and always will play an important role in Biloxi, so let’s cast a wide net and make this a landmark that we can all be proud of. Let’s make it one for the ages.

Thank you.