Fresh shrimp on its way to coast docks - - The News for South Mississippi

Fresh shrimp on its way to coast docks

The first shrimp of the 2017 season have been pulled from the Mississippi Sound (Photo Source: WLOX News Now) The first shrimp of the 2017 season have been pulled from the Mississippi Sound (Photo Source: WLOX News Now)

Mississippi's 2017 shrimp season officially opened Wednesday morning, and shrimpers were ready to drop their nets at 6am sharp.

After days of rain, the skies cleared just in time for the opening. However, the seas were a bit on the rough side, hampering the efforts by the fisherman to drop in and haul out their nets.

"There's a lot of anticipation and build-up for opening day," Department of Marine Resources Director Jamie Miller said. "The blessing of the fleet, families preparing, fishermen preparing their boats and today kind of culminates all that."

What can shrimpers expect this year? The director of the DMR Shrimp and Crab Bureau, Rick Burris, has the answer.  

"Based on our samples, we've seen some really nice sized shrimp, but there's been some really small shrimp coming out, too. But we've got a full moon coming up and that should help them out," Burris said. 

When the nets came up for the first time, and the results could be described as okay at best. 

"We see a lot of small shrimp and a lot of trash fish and grass," shrimper Sam Huynh said. 

Once again this year, shrimpers face high fuel costs and low prices for the shrimp they do catch. But as always, they remain optimistic that the season will turn out to be a good one. The experts are predicting an average to a slightly above average season.

"Ultimately, these shrimp that are caught today will show up on restaurant plates that we hope people will enjoy throughout the region and the country," Miller said. 

All the heavy rain of the past two weeks probably had an impact on the catch, forcing the smaller shrimp out into deeper waters where the salinity is higher.

"It just flushes a lot of the small shrimp out of the estuaries into the sound and we do have a brief window of a few days before more rain comes our way. So hopefully, the can get out here and utilize what's currently out here," Burris explained.  

Also out on the water will be the DMR marine patrol, making sure everyone stays safe and cracking down on one problem area.  

"We have found that that shrimpers need to be a little bit more careful with their garbage on board boats, so we're looking very heavily at that this year," Chief Keith Davis said.

As of Wednesday morning, 675 shrimping licenses had been purchased by commercial and recreational fishermen.

Even though the season lasts for several months, most of the shrimp in the Mississippi Sound are caught within the first few weeks.

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