GRAND ISLE, La. (WGNO) – 53-year-old Ricky Lee Sr. with Ruthann & Rob’s Seafood has been selling seafood at the Westwego Seafood Market for 38 years. He says he’s dedicated his entire life to the Gulf.
“My mother and father had five kids, four boys and one girl, and we all learned how to walk on the shrimp boat,” says Lee.
For a man dependent on Mother Nature Lee says it was life changing watching the BP oil spill take over his livelihood. Nearly five years ago the Westwego Seafood Market was a ghost town, and Ricky was in the Gulf cleaning oil that he says consumed everything.
“We were out in oil from head to toe; this thick on the water, inch and a half, two inches thick. It was so thick you had to peel it off of you because when you put it on it would stick to you like glue,” says Lee.
Now, nearly five years later, state waters off the coast of Elmer’s and Grand Terre Islands, near Grand Isle have reopened. They were waters that were once significantly oiled. Lee says it’s a sign things may get back to how they once were, but he’s skeptical.
“Now what’s going to come up after everybody gets in there and starts dragging and trolling again? See that’s something we don’t know until it actually happens,” says Lee.
So far, the reopening can’t come at a better time. Lee says the holidays make people crave seafood and with the shrimp season picking up late new opportunities only add more to the plate.
Since October, the price of shrimp has come down and Lee expects prices to remain steady through the holidays.
For now Wildlife and Fisheries is monitoring waters near Barataria Bay that are still closed to fishing with the hopes of eventually reopening those areas as well.