< Back to Oral History project: Biloxi’s Ethnic Shrimping Communities
Peter Nguyen, Outreach Coordinator
When Peter Nguyen’s family arrived in Biloxi from Vietnam, with stints in four other states, it was almost as if they came home. They had relatives who were already here, working in seafood, and despite the tensions back then between Vietnamese and White fishermen, there was a small and growing community of Vietnamese fishermen drawn by the availability of work that was familiar to them.
Peter went to school and helped his father on the boat, until he turned 18 and quit his schooling to help full time. For years, the family did well enough for Peter to support his own family. He took out loans and bought his own boat, a massive one, equipped for 6-week trips away from the family he was working to support. He started having reservations, but whatever choices he might have made, Katrina and the tightening economics of the domestic shrimp trade chose for him. Peter sold his boat and works now assisting other fishermen, translating for them, researching better technologies and methods for their businesses, but even as he sees certain fishermen surviving, he doesn’t see their children following them in the industry. “It’s kind of late to start now,” he admits.