Shrimpers prepare for what they expect will be a dismal season

Shrimpers prepare for what they expect will be a dismal season
Shrimper James Miller talks about the dismal prospects of the upcoming shrimp season as he prepares to leave Pass Christian Harbor on Wednesday. (Source: John Fitzhugh)

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - The day before the opening of shrimp season is normally a busy day on the docks of South Mississippi, but Wednesday was noticeably different.

At the docks in Pass Christian, there was activity on only about one in five boats.

Shrimper James Miller and his crew were preparing his boat to be ready to drop their nets at first light on Thursday, but he was not too optimistic.

“This will be the first time I ask for food stamps,” Miller said, “If we don’t have something change radically in our life.”

The Commission on Marine Resources made an emergency declaration on Tuesday that Mississippi waters would be open despite the small shrimp size found in sampling. Normally, the season opens when shrimp are at 68 per pound, but now the samples are at 112.

For a shrimper like Miller, that means a lot less money per pound for the smaller shrimp.

Miller has spent about $3,000 to buy supplies that will allow him to fish for a week. He said he will be lucky to earn that money back.

Shrimp are smaller this year because of low salinity in Mississippi estuaries where the shrimp breed. The salinity change came after the opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway in Louisiana was opened twice this year to alleviate flooding on the Mississippi River.

Miller said things are so bad he may take his boat to South Carolina, where he has heard shrimp and crabs are plentiful.

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