Trawls drag Mississippi waters for fresh shrimp | News
BILOXI, MS (WLOX)- The first nets splashed into the Mississippi Sound at 6:00 Wednesday morning. Fishermen steered their vessels back and forth, hoping those nets would reap a bountiful harvest of fresh gulf shrimp.
After years of struggles and hardships, there is a lot of optimism about this year's Mississippi shrimp season. When the season opens Wednesday, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources says this will be the second earliest start on record.
DMR officials said we have reached 68 count per pound that state law requires to open the season. They said early indications are it's going to be a good and plentiful harvest, so they're hoping for a bigger shrimp fleet.
Down at the docks in Biloxi, the excitement was growing about the start of shrimp season on Wednesday.
Shrimper Tam Tran said, "The sooner they open, the sooner we make some money. I am very happy."
What would make the Department of Marine Resources happy is to see a lot of boats out on the water on opening day. Officials said over the years, the size of the shrimping fleet has been on the decline.
"There have been many hardships for our commercial fisheries," said Traci Floyd of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. "The shrimpers, they've seen high fuel costs increase. They seen competition from imports, and manmade and natural disasters. Last year on opening day, we counted 162 boats. That's down from around 300 following Katrina and only 20 percent of what we saw 10 years ago."
At the DMR office, people lined up Tuesday to get shrimping licenses. Commercial shrimpers said they're optimistic that not too many of shrimp have migrated out of Mississippi waters.
"Hopefully we got a good catch and a nice size shrimp to work on," said Eric Hebert, a 20 year shrimper. "It's been slow, but it's looking good. There are a few shrimp outside the line so hopefully they didn't all leak out."
"What we've seen in our samples is we've seen average to good numbers and really nice size this year, so I'm hopeful that's what they will see as well," Floyd said.
Shrimpers said depending on how well they do out on the water, they should be back at the docks either late Thursday or early Friday, hopefully with plenty of shrimp to sell.
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