Shrimpers are hoping for a bumper crop as the season opens - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Shrimpers are hoping for a bumper crop as the season opens

DMR confirms more than 300 shrimp boats were out on the MS Sound during the first day of shrimp season. (Photo source: WLOX News) DMR confirms more than 300 shrimp boats were out on the MS Sound during the first day of shrimp season. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Six hundred fishermen applied for a license to shrimp this season. (Photo source: WLOX News) Six hundred fishermen applied for a license to shrimp this season. (Photo source: WLOX News)
The first catch of shrimp for one shrimper. (Photo source: WLOX News) The first catch of shrimp for one shrimper. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Shrimper Walter Morgan checking his catch on a shrimp boat. (Photo source: WLOX News) Shrimper Walter Morgan checking his catch on a shrimp boat. (Photo source: WLOX News)
MISSISSIPPI SOUND (WLOX) - Shrimp season is now underway in the waters of the Mississippi Sound. More than 600 fishermen applied for licenses to take part in a profession that dates back more than 100 years. Many of the shrimpers are hoping for a bountiful season, but they are also realistic about an industry that is facing challenges.

More than 300 boats filled the Mississippi Sound on the opening day of shrimp season, according to the Department of Marine Resources (DMR).

At 6 a.m. sharp, the nets blossom in the water, and quickly come back up, loaded down with shrimp. Dolphins tag along, hoping for an easy meal. What will this shrimp season be like?

Rick Burris is the DMR shrimp and crab director.

“I think it will be about average, based on our sampling. But last night was a full moon. So we had a pretty good tide range. So they should catch some shrimp today. The season usually lasts for a couple of weeks and then it will slack off a little,” Burris explained.

On board one vessel, the hard work of separating the good from the bad begins. But an ominous cloud hangs over this industry, according to shrimping veteran Walter Morgan.

“The import shrimp is killing us. They are importing shrimp from overseas and the price is killing the domestic fisherman. That's the bottom line, that's what it's doing. It's killing the market here,” Morgan said.

What the Mississippi Sound does provide is important. Jamie Miller is the DMR executive director.

“We want to bring his product to market. It serves as a big part of the coast's economy. These shrimp will show up all over the state and all over the country. We want to make sure that they are safe, it's a sustainable resource,” Miller explained.

Some are out here just for the pure pleasure of being on the water. Horace Cruthirds is a recreational shrimper.

“I was raised out here. I was raised on the trawl boat. I can't make a living out here, so I go up the road to make a living, but I've got to come back and play,” Cruthirds said.

While the long time tradition is fine, while the history is fine, there's one thing that's even more important on the opening of shrimping season, and that is safety.

That's the goal of Chief Keith Davis, the head of the DMR marine patrol.

“Today, we're not only going to be checking about safety, but we're going to be making sure that all of the compliance issues are in place, making sure that these nets are the right size for the fishermen," Davis said.

Hopefully, the shrimp will be the right size as well.

Most of the brown shrimp will be harvested in the next few weeks. The white shrimp season will pick up significantly beginning in September.

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