The charter fishermen and women of Louisiana took a major hit when oil from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill grounded the industry. British Petroleum paid out millions of dollars to a variety of recipients to provide for industries damaged by the disaster. Charter fishing groups and providers received several million dollars of that money and mainly put the funding toward advertising. Two years after the spill, charter guides are reporting growing business in connection with the ads.
“I would classify this as a comeback year,” said Daryl Carpenter, president of the Louisiana Charter Boat Association. The association represents more than 140 charter boat captains along Louisiana’s coast, according to the Associated Press.
The report focused on two Louisiana parishes, Terrebonne and Lafourche, that feel the advertisements are paying off. “We’re advertising for people to come and fish in Terrebonne,” Gordon said to the AP. “We’ve run ads in Cabela’s Outfitter Journal and are running an ad in the Louisiana Fishing Regulation Brochure. There’s a fishing show that runs on HTV, and some ads are being played on that channel. One thing we have done for the local captains is get as many of them listed on the Convention and Visitors Bureau website as possible.”
The advertisements highlight the industry in Louisiana as a whole and not just individual charter businesses. Metairie-based Louisiana Tourism and Coastal Coalition (LTCC) was granted $5 million to run the advertisements for the industry.
Local fishing guides say their bookings are finally picking up after a quiet two years.
“Versus the last two years, I’ve been extremely busy,” said George Landry of Beachcombers Guide Service in Houma. “Most of my trips are three- or four-people trips. Very seldom do I get a two-person trip.”
The common response from guides is that the fishing is so good and the advertisements so effective that it’s no wonder that business is spiking. However, amongst this positive news, there is some bad: the money from BP that’s been used to buoy up the charter fishing industry is nearing its last dollar.
“Some of the advertising is working, but in five or six days the LTCC will be out of money,” Carpenter, Louisiana Charter Boat Association president said. “What happens then?”
For now, the organizations are hanging on as local fishing guides reap in the benefits, but various associations are banding together to make sure business continues flowing well into the future.