Shrimp Season Looks Promising

It's raining shrimp at Sea Champ.

Freshly caught shrimp pour off the conveyer belts and into thousand gallon plastic containers.

What a difference a year makes for this East Biloxi dock. A year ago, it was still struggling to recover from Katrina.

"This year, we hit the heart of the season. And let me tell you, we've been running until about twelve o'clock at night. And we start about eight in the morning," said owner David Luke.

Giant hoses vacuum the shrimp right off the boats and onto waiting conveyers.

"Really looking pretty good this season, which is great for the fishermen because the diesel is so high," said Luke.

That high cost of fuel and low prices paid for shrimp mean fishermen like Billy Stewart still have to struggle to make decent money.

"You got a good amount of shrimp this year, but the prices are real depleted and diesel fuel is real high. So, it's not really a real profitable year. But it's a marginal year," says Stewart.

Giant peeling machines are shaking and rolling non-stop at the new Gollott Seafood shrimp processing plant in D'Iberville.

"We can now do about 100,000 to 150,000 pounds of shrimp a day. And Mississippi is producing some beautiful shrimp in our Mississippi waters and the whole Gulf of Mexico," said Brian Gollott.

High tech peelers and packers make for quick work and high volume.

"This machine is capable of packing twenty of these bags a minute," said Gollott, pointing to a stainless steel machine.

But the personal touch is still part of the process. Quality control workers carefully pick out any shell pieces or imperfections.

"These shrimp end up all over the United States. We send to Hawaii. We have customers in Canada," he said proudly.

Early indications point to a strong season.

"The good Lord has been taking care of us. We work hard at it," said fisherman Stewart.

The promising season is partly due to the reduced number of shrimpers working the waters. Just over 300 boats were fishing for shrimp when the season opened June 6th. Not long ago, that number was closer to a thousand boats on opening day.