A SHRIMP War involving Texans. Vietnamese and the Church is blowing up off the American coast.
Vietnamese fishermen, with a court order to shield then, from Ku Klux Klan harrassment, were prepared to head for the shrimping grounds but gusty winds delayed them. A Catholic "blessing of the fleet" by Father Toan Minh Hoang was held.
For the past two years the American fisherman and the newly arrived Vietnamese have engaged in a territorial competition over the limited resources of the Galveston Bay. The competition has turned violent several times and three boats operated by Vietnamese were burned earlier thius year. Texas fishermen and Klan members have claimed the Vietnamese were overfishing the bay, The Texas Council of Churches, including the Catholic Church. had set aside a Day of Prayer. Bishop John L. Morkovsky of GalvestonHouston had urged prayers for peace he said before the opening of the season.
The Texas legislature heard testimony from local and Vietnamese shrimp fisherman on the potential for violence and Gov. William Clements recently signed a law placing two-year moratorium on the licensing of new shrimp boats to help ease the overcrowding.
The court order, issued by U.S. District Judge Gabrielle McDonald, prohibits Klan members from parading in robes in groups of two or more before the Vietnamese fishermen or placing gunmen in view of the refugees with the intent of intimidating them.
The Vietnamese Fishermen's Association had filed the suit asking for the injunction. The association's president, Nguyen Van Nam, stated that, "I and other members of the association would voluntarily leave the Galveston Bay area if this was necessary to prevent our property from being destroyed, to protect the lives of our families."
In the diocesan newspaper. the Texas Catholic Herald, Bishop Morkovsky said the situation in the Gulf Coast area is threatening the violation of our JudeoChristian and American tradition of human rights."