Mississippi Shrimp Season Opens June 6th

Ice houses and seafood processors are getting ready for the rush.  Shrimp season in Mississippi waters begins Wednesday, June 6th.

"We got to make sure all our equipment is working and make sure our ice plant is in full operation. Tighten up all the loose ends over here you know," said Ted Luke, of Sea Champ Seafood.

A year ago, his facility was still recovering from Katrina. It's back, with abundant ice supplies and an upgrade called the "Trans Vac." Rather than shoveling the catch by hand, the giant vacuum sucks the shrimp from the fishing boats.

"It'll speed up the process of unloading a lot for these fishermen," said Luke.

Shrimpers are spending these final days before the season repairing boats and engines. Reports from the DMR say conditions are favorable for fishermen to fill their nets.

"Drought like conditions where the salinities are between 10 to 18 parts per thousand. Temperature is above 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which has been wonderful since March for growing those shrimp," said Traci Floyd, who directs the shrimp and crab bureau for the Department of Marine Resources.

Shrimpers told WLOX News they're cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season. They say they'll need larger numbers of shrimp to overcome the familiar challenges of higher fuel costs and low prices for their catch.

"It was a great season last year. We were catching record numbers of shrimp. The problem was getting them processed," said Brian Gollott.

That shouldn't be a problem this season. Most of the processing plants, including Gollot's in D'Iberville are restored and ready.

"Bigger and better. New equipment, all modern. So, we're ready to go. Our Mississippi season is right around the corner," said Gollott.

Now all fishermen need, is a little luck.

"It's just hard to say until they start coming in with the shrimp, you know," said Ted Luke.

The number of shrimp fishermen has dropped dramatically. About ten years ago the DMR counted 1,200 fishermen on opening day of shrimp season. Last year, that count was 300.