Agency reports number of boats up this year as shrimping opens

GULF OF MEXICO — The 2013 Mississippi shrimp season opened at 6 a.m., today to good weather and good shrimp but small numbers, based on early reports from shrimp fishermen. This is according to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR).

Shrimp season opens in Mississippi territorial waters when sampling confirms shrimp have reached the 68-count-per-pound state statute requirement.

According to the MDMR Shrimp and Crab Bureau’s aerial survey, shrimp effort increased on opening day, with 250 shrimp boats counted in Mississippi waters, compared to 210 boats observed last year. Boats were concentrated north of East Ship Island (60 there) and scattered along the shoreline mostly to the east.

As predicted based on intensive sampling prior to the season opening, heavy rains in April and May that reduced salinities contributed to smaller catches reported earlier this morning. Early harvest reports were less favorable (50-60 count brown shrimp, 70-90 pounds per one-hour trawl) for those shrimpers who ventured further away from the Biloxi Channel area where the majority of the fleet worked. Best catches were reported from the Biloxi Channel area where shrimpers brought in nice 40-50 count brown shrimp in small numbers (100 lbs per 1 hour trawl).

“Some late morning and early afternoon shrimpers’ reports told of abundance picking up south of Deer Island and north of Ship Island as the day progressed, with hauls of at least 300 lbs of 40-50 count shrimp per trawl,” said Traci Floyd, MDMR Shrimp and Crab Bureau director. “Things could improve for our hard-working shrimpers as night falls, when brown shrimp become more active.”

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