Torrential Rains A Mixed Blessing For Seafood Industry

The shrimp catch that was unloaded at the Gulfport Pier Saturday was pretty good size, and that's how you know it didn't come from the Mississippi Sound. Allison's rains pushed young shrimp out of Back Bay and into the Sound meaning smaller shrimp.

"We have, and the other dealers on the coast have seen very small shrimp," Gulfport seafood dealer Michael Sevel said. "You know, ones that really our customers don't want."

And that's why the Department of Marine Resources closed portions of the Sound to shrimping earlier in the week to give the young shrimp a chance to get bigger.

"The boats are still working, still catching shrimp," Sevel explained. "They're just having to, you know, it's a little inconvenient, they're having to go farther out to get them, but we still have shrimp."

Allison's rains weren't all bad news, though. All the water could mean good things for crawfish.

"Everything comes out of Louisiana, which is the wild crawfish, and they needed water and they got it," Junie Desporte, a Biloxi seafood dealer, said.

Generally, the crawfish season ends in early July, but experts say because of the heavy rain, we could still great crawfish into August and at great prices.

Seafood dealers say an increase in the crawfish supply this year has been and will continue to be good for consumers' pocketbooks.

"The price of crawfish is like half of what it was this time last year," Desporte said. "I'm thinking that the prices is basically going to say the same through the end of the season."

Good news for people like Deanna Strain, who drove to Biloxi from Picayune to buy crawfish. And great news for seafood dealers who plan to continue to stay busy through the end of the summer.

Experts say shrimp prices are about the same as they were last year, but it's hard to tell how the rest of the season will play out. If the young shrimp currently in the Sound stay there and grow up, the season could be long and profitable. On the other hand, they could move on.

Dealers say shrimp prices change frequently and are hard to predict.