BILOXI (WLOX) -- Mississippi's 2008 shrimp season officially opened early Tuesday morning, and so far, the outlook is good. Shrimpers reported seeing average-size shrimp and catch volumes.
And despite the record high gas prices, there were about the same number of boats on the water for opening day as previous years. The Department of Marine Resources counted 308 commercial and recreational shrimp boats in service Tuesday. That's eight more than in 2007, and two more than in 2006.
DMR staff members were also on the water conducting interviews and surveying shrimp boats. They found that most of the boats were congregated inside of Horn Island along the Intracoastal Waterway and the west end of Petit Bois, where they were catching fair to good numbers of 40/50-count brown shrimp. Other boats were working around Cat Island and West Ship Island.
"With the high cost of fuel, many fishermen decided to wait until they had more information on how the season would be," said DMR's Shrimp and Crab Bureau Director Traci Floyd. "Those that did head out onto the waters agreed that location was key to success. Great reports were coming from the area inside Horn Island along the Intracoastal Waterway."
DMR's Marine Patrol had 12 boats and dozens of officers conducting patrols throughout the Mississippi Sound.
"We are thankful for the good weather this year. As of 3:30 p.m. [June 17], we had no distress calls," said Lt. Col. Claude Pittman, assistant chief of the DMR's Marine Patrol. "Compliance rates were much higher than in previous years."