DMR calling 2015 shrimp season "average". (Photo source: WLOX News)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -
The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) considers this year's shrimp season average. Landings as of the end of July were up. There was a little more than 4 million pounds landed as of July. Which is up from last July, according to DMR.
"We believe the numbers bear out that the resource is there. But people's livelihood really exists on pricing not if the resource is available," DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller said.
The season which started in June experienced a start and stop in the beginning due to small shrimp sizes.
Miller said he believes what's impacting fishermen most are the prices due to a resurgence of imports this year. He said his department is working at a Congressional level to get labeling and imports dealt with properly to even the playing field for local fishermen.
"Currently it is not. It is good for the consumers in some ways, but for the fishermen they would prefer to get a premium for their product," Miller explained. "We think the Gulf is doing well. We think the shrimp season on average is doing well. We wish the prices were a little better."
He said work will have to be done legislatively to correct that problem.
"The way tariffs and the way shrimp gets brought into the country at the prices they are brought in they can, either through aqua-culture or other ways, bring those shrimp in at a lower cost to what we are providing here locally. So our product is superior. But ultimately people make choices on price and so its not a level playing field," said Miller.
Despite having to start and stop shrimp season this year, Miller doesn't believe the season was opened too early.
"We do a lot of sampling, by law we open when the count gets to 68 per pound. So all those things lined up. I think what we had, due to rain fall and some other environmental conditions, we had a crop that kind of got out from the estuary and then we had a new crop come out and we were catching some of those smaller shrimp," Miller said.
Will Tiger Shrimp become a problem?
Miller doesn't believe so, but he said DMR remains cautious about the invasive species.