Small shrimp, low prices mark disappointing start to Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Small shrimp, low prices mark disappointing start to Mississippi shrimp season

Chris Lyons manages the dock at St. Michael's on back bay. He said the shrimp are small and prices are low so far this year. (Photo source: WLOX) Chris Lyons manages the dock at St. Michael's on back bay. He said the shrimp are small and prices are low so far this year. (Photo source: WLOX)
Shrimp season in Mississippi waters opened one week ago, and so far it's been tough going for fishermen. (Photo source: WLOX) Shrimp season in Mississippi waters opened one week ago, and so far it's been tough going for fishermen. (Photo source: WLOX)

Small shrimp and low prices. That seems to be the story so far, with shrimp season in Mississippi.

The season opened one week ago in Mississippi waters. And, as always, fishermen had high hopes for a good harvest. But so far at least, disappointing may best describe this season.

The sound of ice being loaded into boxes echoes across the docks at St. Michael's this hot, muggy morning. But the conveyers that should be unloading fresh shrimp from the fishing boats are silent.

"A lot of the fleet is not fishing. Like I said, it's too big of a risk for some people to spend the money on fuel and ice and go out there and some people not even make a profit," said Dock Manager Chris Lyons.

Lyons says many shrimpers are choosing to wait, hoping the shrimp will grow larger and the prices might edge up a bit.

"I think everybody agrees that maybe the season opened a little too early, shrimp being too small, and they're hoping there's going to be another crop of shrimp out there that get a little bigger and maybe they can fetch a better price and therefore make a little extra money," said Lyon.

The demand for fresh Gulf shrimp remains strong. Aaron Baker was at the docks in Biloxi early Wednesday. He runs a seafood business in Petal and comes to the coast every couple of days for fresh shrimp.

Baker admits the shrimp started out rather small, but things are looking a bit better.

"After the blessing of the fleet, we seen a lot more larger shrimp down here. Very good for our sales in Hattiesburg. Make a lot of money, yes sir," said Baker.

At Quality Poultry & Seafood in Biloxi, customers still crave fresh Gulf shrimp. And the general manager is confident the season will only get better.

"Everybody anticipates the opening up of shrimp season and business really starts to pick up in June," said Andy Gunkel. "As the season goes on, the shrimp get bigger, the prices go down, and it's a win-win for everybody."

Of course, the price of shrimp is a double-edged sword. What may be a reasonable price for the consumer who buys fresh shrimp, may not be so favorable to the fisherman who supplies it.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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