Captain Anderson's isn't what it used to be - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fishing boats catch crude oil, not fish...

Captain Anderson's isn't what it used to be

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Panama City Beach, FL - (WALB) One of the most well-known spots in Panama City Beach, Florida is Captain Anderson's Marina.

It's not only popular for its restaurant, but its charter boat fishing rentals and fresh seafood market. But sadly, because of the BP oil disaster, it's a changed place these days.

 At Captain Anderson's seafood It's all about the fish. "We don't sell nothing frozen," said Fish Cleaner Johnny Burke. "Everything we sell is fresh. So we depend on a daily catch."

And the fish cleaning operation is idle. "On weekends, we'll clean anywhere from three to five thousand. I did not clean a single charter boat fish order this last weekend."

People from all around walk along the dock to see thousands of pounds of fish reeled in from the Gulf of Mexico.

Everyday there's usually anywheres from 200 to 300 people down on the dock a day.

"The other Saturday, at 3 o'clock, there wasn't a single soul on the dock," Burke said.

Because these days…there is no daily catch. "No fish. No people. If there's no fish, people aren't going to come."

The fishermen who keep this place in business, now have other work. About two-thirds of them are working for BP. With most of the gulf closed to fishing, boat owners have traded their fishing rods for oil skimmers.

The guys are doing what they have to make a living, but the fishing industry, for us, we're in worse shape than anybody.

And at Anderson's Seafood store, there is no business.  "We usually have a showcase full of fish and shrimp and now we only got two sizes," Burke said.

A half empty fish showcase now framed by overstocked grocery shelves "Here's all our good stuff that's got dust on it cause we don't have no business to sell it."

As Johnny Burke ponders his future.

Nearly 80 percent of the charter fishing boats at Capt. Anderson's are now part of BP's Vessels of Opportunity program.

BP contract workers wearing bright orange vests make up the majority of people on the docks at Captain Anderson's marina these days.

Task Force One Fleet Commander, Captain Ron Spriggs, says their job is to intercept any oil before it hits the beach. "We're responsible for making sure that nothing hits the beach and nothing hits the shore.

Once the oil is corralled, they use the skimmers, kind of like large vacuums, to pull it out of the water and dispose of it.

We do that by a method called skimming or booming. "We take the boats and use these absorbent booms and actually corral the oil up."

The good news is they haven't found any oil here in three weeks, thanks to easterly winds.

Depending on the size of the vessel, the boat owners are paid anywhere from $1,200 to several thousand dollars a day.