Interviewee: William Thiroux

Role: Commercial fisherman and crabber

Date of Interview: 1/24/12

Collection: Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster Oral History Project

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: William "Billy" Thiroux is a crabber and shrimper who now lives in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. His father was a commercial fisherman and his mother worked in the seafood processing plant of Biloxi, Mississippi, as a shrimp and crab picker. Mr. Thiroux recounts his career as a shrimper, crabber and oysterman, detailing his fishing and harvesting methods and his dealings with seafood wholesalers. He explains the effects of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster on the crab and shrimp populations of the Gulf Coast.


I just like being out there, I guess, on that fresh water, and the air I just – I don't know. But I feel so much better when I get out there than I do around the house. Even when they stopped us from catching them egg crabs, we'd come in here, and we was catching peeler crabs then, the ones that's going to make soft crabs And Harriet Gary from the research lab, she'd come show me how to do it and everything, and I got a tank set up in there now. But we used to catch plenty. And when we was at Pass Christian we used to catch them peeler crabs, and we'd sell them to Seymour in D'Iberville. And we'd catch them by the half-a-baskets full, but now you don't even see that, no more soft crabs. When we first started, we'd shed ten, twelve dozen a night, but now, you can't shed nothing the season, just about. They just gone. I believe the seafood business is gone, myself. I don't know. I hope it comes back, but I don't see much hope. Everything is getting too expensive, crab pots and everything and nets and the fuel, and the price of stuff ain't never – I'm getting the same as I – I get a dollar now for crabs, a dollar a pound. Been getting that ten years, and everything steady go up, up, up. But to me, people ain't eating crabs like they used to. I don't know if they're scared of them, or what it is. If it's the oil spill, they scared? But man, I used to sell crabs down at the boat all the time. I ain't sold a crab in I don't know when now. They'd see you coming in, man, they'd come buy some. Not no more. I don't know.

What I tell all them young kids: go to school. Too late for me. You about got to have a college education now to get a good job. It's bad. I just think if they never would have passed that law on the sponge/egg crabs that we'd still have a good crab season. They just shut it down. Even when I was dragging a net, shrimping, I've seen me catch so many egg crabs till I couldn't pick the net up. I'd have to cut it to let the crabs out, but nobody could catch them. And if that would have never happened, I believe you still would have a good crab season; you could make a living out of it. Like I say, even last year, summer, catch five, six, seven boxes of egg crabs, one box of good crabs, two boxes of good crabs. You could make a living out of that if you could sell them egg crabs, but they won't let you.

To listen to William's interview, click here.