Shrimpers Say Job Is Tough, Be Careful - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/20/04

Shrimpers Say Job Is Tough, Be Careful

Another fatal shrimping accident proves what statistics have reported for years that commercial shrimping is one of the most dangerous lines of work in the country.

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove says the death of a Lakeshore, Mississippi native has been ruled an accident.

The body of 35-year-old Elbert Wayne Bosarge was found early Wednesday morning tangled in shrimp nets near Elephant Pass.

We spoke to a few shrimpers who shared concerns and advice about their risky jobs.

With nearly 1000 pounds of shrimp on board, Roscoe Leibig believes he did pretty well to have just completed his first voyage as a shrimper.

He says he learned a few lessons during the two-day trip, but the one lesson sticks out.

"Don't take too much to get hurt. One thing goes wrong, one line runs off the side or something like that with the trawl and gets in your leg or something. You've gotta be very careful around the wench and everything. You got a lot of moving parts there," said Leibig.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, carelessness on these moving parts causes more than 70 deaths each year.

"These guys have to make their money when the season is open, so they necessarily have to be out there in foul weather where a recreational boater can pick and choose his days," said U.S. Coast Guard petty officer Paul Barnard.

But shrimping veteran Bobby Barnett says rough weather or a slippery boat deck aren't the only hazards of the job.

"The price of fuel is high, the price of nets are high, the price of all this stuff on these boats are high. Normally the boats all got new nets, new boards, and very few of the boats got any new equipment. You have to go with what you got," said Barnett.

And going with what they have may not be very safe.

So Barnett's suggestion to shrimpers this season.

"In times, you have a tendency to if you see a lot of shrimp or something, you get in a hurry and you can catch yourself and get in trouble. Just be aware".

To help fishers and shrimpers stay safe this season, the Coast Guard is offering a courtesy inspection plan, where they check to make sure shrimpers have all their required equipment.

Among the requirements are life jackets, a VHF radio, and flares.

By Karla Redditte

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