Open water surrounds the Cherice IV, but not because it is out to sea. It is alone, because it currently sits as the only charter fishing boat in Grand Isle’s Sand Dollar Marina.
Sand Dollar is one of the few marinas in southeast Louisiana that remain open, after a series of devastating events. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist Clint Edds said that three recent events have combined to damage the state’s charter fishing industry.
First, Hurricane Katrina was so devastating to southeast Louisiana in 2005 that people could not travel to most coastal areas for several months. Edds said that the charter fishing industry briefly recovered after Katrina, but only until the price of fuel rose. “[Charter fishing] got rolling back again, but then after Katrina, the price of fuel went up, so it cost more for the captains to get out to the fishing grounds,” said Edds. Finally, Edds said that Hurricane Gustov in 2008 was the last straw.
Ed Frekey, owner and operator of Tuna Time Charters in Fourchan, Louisiana, cited all three of these reasons for why he is choosing to leave the business for the time being. He mentioned that finding a consistent first mate for his charters is another issue.
Frekey has witnessed the decline in charter fishing first hand, because his clients cannot afford to fish as often as they did before. “Clients that were coming 4-5 times a year, are now coming 1-2 times a year,” said Frekey. However, Frekey claims he will re-enter the charter fishing business one day. “We’ll probably re-adjust the business, and structure it more for different clientele, and tone down as many trips as we do,” said Frekey.