Shrimpers give disappointing marks to first week of shrimp season

DMR officials blame heavy rains in April and May for the slow start to this year's shrimp season.
DMR officials blame heavy rains in April and May for the slow start to this year's shrimp season.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The docks are usually hopping this time of year as shrimpers pull in with their catch. We're about a week into the 2013 shrimp season, and so far, many shrimpers are giving it disappointing marks.

The first week of the shrimp season is usually the busiest at Gollott's Ice and Oil Dock on Biloxi Back Bay. That is where sacks of shrimp are stacked, wrapped, and counted, ready to be transported to a nearby processing plant.  On Monday, ten boats pulled in to unload their catch.

"I think it's a little below average. We're having really nice size, but the overall catch is a little bit down," said Richie Gollott, co-owner of the business.

Gollott said normally, a small boat would haul in between 5,000-6,000 pounds of shrimp after spending several days on the Mississippi Sound.  But so far, he's seen about half that amount, an average of 2,500 pounds per boat.

"We have some smaller boats that go out in the Sound, and then we have some that go out in federal waters also. The smaller ones are the ones that are down right now, and the bigger ones are doing about average," said Gollott.

Tuan Vo spent last week plying the Sound and his nets caught about 3,000 pounds of shrimp.

"This year, I didn't catch a lot. It's average," Vo said. "After three days, there aren't any more shrimp. Some of the other boats haven't caught much either, so we're not heading out right now."

Vo said with money spent on boat repairs, fuel, and ice, he doesn't know if he can recoup his losses.

"I'm not happy. With not much to catch this season, I'm wondering if I can make a living," said Vo.

Vo said he'll wait until the end of the week to try his luck again.

"They're optimistic, always hoping that it gets a little better," said Gollott. "Hopefully, it'll pick up in the next couple of weeks."

"I hope so," Vo said.

DMR officials agreed the 2013 shrimp season did get off to a slow start. They attributed the lower landings to heavy rains in April and May, which reduced the salinity of the water. Shrimp need warm, salty water in order to survive and grow

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