Interviewee: Avery Bates

Role:President of OSAA

Date of Interview: 4/1/08

Collection: Bayou La Batre

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Abstract: Avery Bates is Vice President of the Organized Seafood Association of Alabama, and a former oysterman, crabber, and shrimper. He is concerned about dwindling access to the waterfront for commercial and recreational fishermen, and hopes the local government will step up to preserve access for fishermen, both to secure the future of the Alabama seafood industry, and enable him to teach his grandkids how to fish one day.

Transcript: "We hope, you know, our crab industry will get better, it's just managing it properly. Like most things, you've got to manage seafoods properly. We just hope we can get better access to the water. If you see this water behind me, this is one of the prime areas that we used to run from bad weather. This is the area where we used to tie our shrimp boats, crab boats, fishing boats, but now you don't have no docking facilities whatsoever for the commercial fisherman here. In fact, Dauphin Island is trying to get something back for the commercial fishing industry. We have no place for public, people coming out of the Bayou and Coden to tie their boats up now. So, it's important that we have access to the water so we can keep supplying the seafood, and we're losing docking facilities, not only for commercial but recreational. You take recreational fishermen, you'll see them backed up slap to the Cadillac Square in the summertime. They have no place to launch their boats—this is it. Unless we use some good wisdom, and start acquiring some beach frontage or access in these places to build access to the water, these thousands and thousands of people that's going to come to our waters is not going to have a place to launch. We're in desperate need of more launching. We've got to do something both commercial and recreational.

You know, a lot of people like to hook and line fish and a lot of people like to eat good seafood, but unless we can get to the water, they're out of luck, we're out of luck. So, these facilities here, they look good, you don't see a boat though. We have to plan ahead and acquire properties. I mean this is an area that we all use, so let's keep it an area we can all use. I'd like to teach my grandkids and stuff how to oyster. I ain't got none yet, grandkids, but I hope to have some someday. And but uh, I'd like to teach them how to make a living from the water."

To watch Avery's interview, click here.