Shrimpers Weigh In On Poor Catch

The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor was pretty quiet Friday afternoon.

Just four days into the shrimp season, very few customers were seen at the shrimp boats, and shrimpers say it's just a result of the small catch.

"It's terrible. It's terrible," said shrimper Mike Kopszywa.

And Kopszywa believes he knows why. He says it has to do with poor scheduling.

"The fresh water and the cool weather didn't help and the DMR should have opened it two weeks ago south of the tugboat lane. Our shrimp flushed out into the Gulf and they should have kept north of the lane closed for at least two weeks, and it hurt. It hurt. The shrimp are small," said Kopszywa.

Shrimper Mark Stewart agrees.

"The first crop of shrimp we had moved out. They already left. They moved out into the Gulf, and this second crop, they opened the season up and we're catching the second crop. That's why they are so small," said Stewart.

"The same thing happened in Alabama. Alabama is the same way. Pressure put on the DMR to open the season," said Kopszywa.

"One thing I can tell you for sure that no matter when we open it, everybody is not gonna be happy," said DMR executive director Dr. Bill Walker.

Dr. Bill Walker is the executive director of the department of marine resources.

He says the department is doing what it can to help ease a stressful situation, but he says the samples from Mississippi waters indicated it was time to open the season.

"It's not any pressure involved we do, we like to coordinate opening with Alabama so we minimize the number of Alabama boats coming to Mississippi and the number of Mississippi boats going to Alabama. If we can open about the same time, it's helpful to both states but I don't consider that pressure. That's just a good management technique," said Walker.

He says the department has been diligently working with the Southern Shrimp Alliance to try to provide some kind of relief to the shrimpers, but until that relief comes...

"The shrimp are too small. You ain't gone make no money on 60 cents, 80 cents per pound shrimp. Not when fuel prices are $1.81 a gallon," said Kopszywa.

Dr. Walker says the DMR will continue to monitor the waters and says if shrimp continue to remain small, it may temporarily close the areas to give the shrimp a chance to grow.