Shrimp season off to a disappointing start

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) -  The 2009 shrimp season is off to a lackluster start.

As predicted, the shrimp are mostly small and fishermen are struggling to cover costs.

As one fishermen put it, "I'm just grinding away at it, doing the best I can."

Five days after it began, the 2009 shrimp season is mostly disappointing.

All the activity at the St. Michael docks in East Biloxi belies the fact that shrimp season is off to a slow start.

"We keep busy even though it's slow. 'Cause we're selling ice and fuel and getting them boats on out," said operator David Luke.

Those boats are finding shrimp, but as predicted when this later-than-usual season got started, the catch is mostly small.

"Every season is different. This year is totally different from any one I ever saw, 'cause it opened so late on account of them northeast winds and all the rain and different things or another," said Luke.

Shrimpers we talked with used one word to describe the early '09 catch.

"Small," yelled one fisherman as he jumped back aboard his shrimp boat.

It is a tough way to make a living, but despite the early disappointment, there remains a bit of hope for those who work the waters.

"With all the heat we've been having lately, it looks like they ought to be growing. But I notice these small boats coming in, these big shrimps is on top the water. They're putting down their bibs and catching a few big shrimp that's helping them out a little bit," said Luke.

Despite the disappointing season so far, you can still find plenty of local shrimpers selling their catch at the Biloxi small craft harbor.

Fishermen like Eddie Rhodes sell fresh shrimp right off the boat.

We found Rhodes filling coolers for customers planning a Fourth of July shrimp boil.  Rhodes admits it's slow so far this year.

He caught these shrimp last night, but plans on taking a breather before hitting the waters again.

"Just grind away at it. Do what you can, that's all you can do.  It's Mother Nature," said a smiling Rhodes.

For customers interested in buying fresh shrimp off the boats, we found prices at the Biloxi small craft harbor ranging from $1.75 a pound to $5.00 a pound, depending on size.

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