Shrimpers Call This Season The Worst In Memory

This is said to be the worst shrimp season South Mississippi shrimpers have ever seen. Local shrimpers have been wrestling with record-high fuel prices and a poor harvest since the season opened in June.

The April Dawn pulled into the Biloxi smallcraft harbor Tuesday afternoon.

"We have been up at the Hurricane Hole up by Cedar Lake. I think everybody around here is now familiar with it," said shrimper Mina Hasten.

The Hastens haven't been able to drop their nets in more than a week because of Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricane Dennis. Tuesday afternoon, the Hastens were unsure if they were going to head out and try to make up for lost time and money.

"It's really ify. Sometimes you can ride out after a storm and you can really catch a lot of shrimp, and sometimes you don't. It's just like when the season opens, you never know what's going to be out there," Hasten said.

But the Hastens do know about Emily.

"I've heard the word Emily. We were actually debating whether to come back to the harbor or just sit up there and wait for Emily to come up," Hasten said.

Meanwhile, most of the shrimp boats remain docked in the harbor.

"These are 16 to the pound, and they go for about $4.50, $5 a pound, when you can catch them," said shrimper James Miller.

He's a third generation shrimper who also just returned to the Biloxi smallcraft harbor, after seeking refuge from the storm. He's been shrimping for more than 30 years and says this is the worst season ever.

"These storms are really killing us. They're putting a damper on our business," Miller said.

Shrimping is Miller's sole source of livelihood. That's why he's going to take his chances and head out Wednesday to shrimp in Louisiana waters. Miller hopes the trip will be a profitable one, but doubts this is a trade he will be able to pass on to his son.

"It seems like it's a dying industry the way it's going."