Shrimp Season Won't Open Until Mid June

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Mississippi fishermen will have to wait another week or two until shrimp season begins. That's the latest word from the Department of Marine Resources, which determines opening day each season.

One year ago, Mississippi shrimpers were preparing to drop their nets and open the season on June 6th. But not this year.

"Right now, we're at about 84 count. It has to be 68 count for us to open the season. We'll continue to sample throughout the summer," said Traci Floyd, who works as the shrimp and crab bureau director for DMR.

She expects an opening date in mid-June this year.

"The waters were a little bit colder this year. It took us a little bit longer to warm up to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature where the shrimp really start to grow. And so, we're just a little bit behind this year. All other indications look like just an average year," says Floyd.

There is much less competition among Mississippi shrimp fishermen these days. About 300 commercial licenses have been issued this year, down dramatically from the 800 or so in the years just before Katrina.

But though there is much less competition, those shrimpers that remain face some difficult obstacles.

"Of course, loss of infrastructure since the storm. The rising fuel costs. And the lower prices from imported shrimp really hit our shrimpers hard," Floyd said.

"They know where to get 'em. I know where to buy 'em," said George Lynn of Vicksburg, as he prepared to buy more shrimp from Lien Nguyen's boat at the Biloxi harbor.

He's been a regular customer for more than a decade. Buyers like him give shrimpers the assurance there will always be a market for their catch, despite concerns over high fuel prices.

"I'm not worried about the price you know. Price on anything, if you want it, and you got the money, you're going to buy it," said Lynn.

The shrimp being sold at the harbor were caught in Louisiana waters. Mississippi shrimpers will have to wait a bit longer before trying their luck.