BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Shrimp season in Mississippi opened less than two weeks ago. And following a strong start, things have slowed down a bit for shrimp fishermen.
It's the sound they like to hear at St. Michael's: Conveyer belts moving shrimp from the boats to the dock.
"It's been a good season so far. A lot of good shrimp coming in on the belt and it's been a good season," said Josh Lyons, as he supervised the offload at St. Michael's Fuel & Ice Dock.
Late Monday morning finds the crew unloading its seventh boat of the day. Lyons takes a sample to determine an accurate count.
"Every few minutes we'll check. And try to give the fishermen a fair count and the factory a fair count. And everybody stays happy. It slowed off the beginning of this week. And we're just now seeing a good seven, eight boat rush today. So it's picking back up," said Lyons.
Just 12 days ago, 368 shrimp boats were counted on opening day, the largest number since 2005. And they brought in plenty of shrimp those first few days.
"Things have slowed down. Probably the fishermen are catching maybe 40 percent of what they were catching during the opening," said Chris Lyons.
They use a vacuum hose system to suck the shrimp off the boat onto the conveyer belt and then onto the dock where the fresh catch is put on ice.
"It's a lot quicker than shoveling. We can flush out some salt water down in there and suck 'em a lot quicker and get 'em up on the belt. Get 'em iced and on the trucks," said Josh Lyons.
Shrimpers are hoping the season picks-up again after the strong start.
"It just slowed up. Been slow there lately. Last few days. They say the bottom is rotting and a new moon is coming out, so maybe they'll show back up again, you know," said Ted Luke.
Mississippi shrimpers are receiving a higher price for their catch this year, thanks in large part to fewer imports after disease hampered the Asian shrimp production.
But the conveyer at St. Michael's keeps moving.
"As long as there's shrimp on that belt, we're happy," said Josh Lyons.