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Day one of shrimping season commences; shrimpers experience economic woes

At the start of the 2022 shrimping season, the Mississippi Sound is seeing fewer nets cast than usual.
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 5:29 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - “It’s a little choppy out here.”

The gray skies and rough seas reflect the reality facing shrimpers.

Can Nguyen is a shrimper. He is also the owner of a shrimp boat named Capt. Can. According to Nguyen, maintenance fees on the boat, engine, and nets while combined with licenses, groceries, ice and other equipment can be quite expensive.

“Sometimes we get a lot of shrimp and can cover expenses, but if [we’re] not catching good shrimp, we have to go back.” says Nguyen. “We try to make a trip of 6 days and see how much we are catching. If we are catching okay, we keep working, but after a week if we’re not catching much, we have to tie up our boat and wait until white shrimp season.”

At the start of the 2022 shrimping season, the Mississippi Sound is seeing fewer nets cast than usual. According to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, just over 300 shrimping licenses were issued this year. That number has dropped steadily. Just five years ago, that number topped 400. Only 32 boats could be seen trawling for shrimp on opening day, whereas last years number stood at 94.

This year, record high fuel prices and low shrimp prices are making business even tougher on crews like Nguyen’s.

“We try to make a few trips and see how we’re doing.” says Nguyen. “A lot of boats already give up and tie up their boats...we are hard working people, and we work hard [to] try to make some money, but it’s hard with all the expenses.”

According to Nguyen, the shrimp he’s catching today will sell for about 60 cents a pound.

He needs a dollar per pound to make a living.

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