Mississippi Shrimpers Struggling This Season

BILOXI (WLOX) - Fresh gulf shrimp arrive at the docks of Seachamp Seafood. The impressive catch represents several hard days of shrimping.

Last summer, shrimp boats waited in line to unload at these docks but not now.

"Some boats catch a few here and there. But overall it's just the numbers have been real low. Especially compared to last year, cause we had such a bumper crop last year. And compared to this year, it's almost nothing," said dock supervisor Louie Cobb.

A Vietnamese shrimper shrugged his shoulders and admitted he's had difficulty finding enough shrimp this summer.

The captain of the Judson Daniel says it's not just the shortage of shrimp in Mississippi waters.

"You've got to watch yourself. You can't run and look, it just costs so much. You can't hardly move around and run places and look because fuel's so high. That's what's killing us really is the fuel," said shrimp fisherman Lynn McClain.

"It's about 75 percent less shrimp this year than last year, at least," said David Luke, who has owned the icehouse and fuel dock since 1994.

He says shrimp are not only scarce, they seem to be slow-growing.

"Usually hot like this in the summer, shrimps would grow pretty quick. Every three days they'd grow about a count. Lately, I've seen the growth is not there. And they need the growth to make the money you know," says Luke.

Fuel prices for shrimpers are close to double what they were last season. Right now, David Luke is selling his fuel for $4.15 a gallon. And to his surprise, despite the record high price, he's selling as much fuel as ever these days.

"And it shows that the boats is not giving up. They're continually working hard and dedicated. They got it in their blood and that's what their livelihood is. I'm proud of the fishermen that continue working like that and keep our heritage here," said David Luke.

Some shrimpers have decided the shortage of shrimp and high fuel prices aren't worth the gamble. They've left their boats tied to the docks.

Others have decided to try their luck in Louisiana waters.