Seafood Industry Committee Minutes

Minutes from April 9, 2006 meeting

Gai Truong: Facilitator, member of Seafood Industry Committee, Reviving
The Renaissance
Thao Vu: case manager of Boat People SOS
Kristy Truong: member of Seafood Industry Committee
Theresa Nguyen: father is boat owner
Mr. Richard Gollott: attendee, Chair of Seafood Industry Committee,
Reviving the Renaissance
Mr. Duggan: attendee
Cui Nguyen: shrimp boat owner
Tac Truong: shrimper
Hung Nguyen: shrimp boat owner
Tu Hung: shrimp boat owner
Chien Ly: father is boat owner
Dac Truong: shrimp boat owner
Thomas Phan: father is boat owner
Thu Ba: husband is boat owner

1. What are the difficulties you have encountered since Hurricane Katrina?

  • Our boats are severely damaged.
  • Our homes in East Biloxi are completely gone – we are currently living in trailers.
  • We don’t have an income.
  • We lost all of our boat’s electronic equipment.
  • We lost everything we had (per Mr. Hung Nguyen).
  • Our boats sank.
  • Mr. Hung complained of various grants ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 that were given to some boat owners. Not all boat owners received the same assistance. WHY?
  • Lack of communication within the Biloxi area. People in the community are not aware of all the resources that may be available to them. Vietnamese are now displaced and scattered everywhere along the Gulf Coast.

2. How can the government assist you with the fishing industry?

  • We need funding to fix our boats.
  • Insurance premiums are very high for boats. We need affordable insurance.
  • Perhaps government can help by subsidizing insurance premiums.
  • We need docking places in Biloxi with fuel and ice.
  • We need help with fuel to start off the shrimp season.
  • Thao Vu talked about fuel funding being available for fishermen on the Gulf Coast from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama (Alabama’s boat owners received their shares last year).
  • When asked about the fuel vouchers that Alabama shrimpers received but Mississippi shrimpers didn’t, Mr. Gollott stated that Alabama had received a gift of 1.2 million dollars from Saudi Arabia and their governor had passed it on to the Alabama fishermen. Mr. Gollott also stated he didn’t know if Mississippi had received the same gift or not, but the state of Mississippi had been hit a lot harder than Alabama, and if the governor had received the same money he might have had to use it for cleaning up or maybe something more pressing at the time.
  • Mr. Gollott talked about the 1.1 billion in total assistance which was adopted but not finalized.
  • Mr. Gollott said there is no guarantee on this particular grant.
  • Mr. Gollott spoke of the SBA loan and the fact that it could become a grant. There’s a chance the loan may not have to be repaid.

3. What were the types of hardships you experienced in the fishing industry before Hurricane Katrina?

  • Too many rules/regulations (Example: TEDs (Turtle Excluding Device).
  • Low shrimp prices, less profits.
  • High fuel prices.
  • Hard to find deckhands because of low shrimp prices.

4. How severe were your boats damaged?

  • Boat’s engines were destroyed.
  • Boats were banged up and needed hull and equipment repairs.
  • Electronic equipment for operating boat was destroyed.

5. What do you want the docking facility in Biloxi to be like?

  • Expansion of docking facility on Back Bay (end of Lee Street).
  • We need fuel and ice available at above mentioned docking facility.
  • Mr. Dac Truong suggested that the docking fees should be waived for several months to help the fishermen.
  • Mr. Gollott said that we need to keep the docking facility in Biloxi. Developers for condos will want to use much of the property suited for docking facilities.

Additional Comments and Suggestions

  • Issues of citizenship. Many boat owners have their family members with citizenship as the boat owner on the title. How will that particular boat owner benefit from the grant? Mr. Duggan said that this issue should be resolved among their family members or friends.
  • Talked about the 1.1 billion dollars to rebuild seafood industry that was passed by the Senate, but not the House of Representatives.
  • We need to put more effort into presenting our needs to Congress in order to rebuild the fishing industry in Biloxi.
  • In assessing our needs we need to document all the boats damaged during Hurricane Katrina.
  • Mr. Gollott will set up a meeting with Dr. Walker, director of the DMR, for more information on what kind of documents are needed. With this information from Dr. Walker we can proceed with gathering the needed data from the boat owners.
  • Mr. Gollott will contact Gai Truong about this meeting.
  • Gai Truong suggested we gather specific information first. They need to have flyers made informing the people of the community about this huge project and the funding available. Flyers need to be translated. A time frame needs to be set for the boat owners to come in and meet with Thao Vu, the case manager.
  • Thao Vu will compile individual folders of each boat owner.
  • Documentation is very important. Boat owners need to keep all receipts of repairs made to their boats.
  • After the data is collected Mr. Gollott will present it to Congress.
  • Mr. Hung Nguyen said he does not know where to go for assistance with his boat issues. He suggested that we have a focal point with a bilingual person to help.
  • Mr. Gollott stated that the DMR is in the process of hiring a bilingual person.
  • Gai stated “The community needed capacity to accomplish the many tasks within the community”.
  • Mr. Gollott talked of several technical positions being filled by qualified candidates.
  • Thao Vu said that Boat People SOS would bring in 13 employees to help.


  • Meet with Dr. Walker, DMR director.
  • Make announcement to community via flyer or community meeting concerning this project (1.1 billion dollars for Seafood Industry). Have flyers translated to Vietnamese.
  • Set time frame to collect data.
  • Have boat owners make appointment with Thao Vu. They are to bring him all necessary documents and receipts.
  • Request financial help from Governor Barbour for ice, fuel, and needed electronics that were lost due to the storm. Mississippi shrimpers need help to get started this season.