On, off shrimp season keeps fishermen, diners waiting
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi fishermen and shoppers are wondering where the shrimp are as they wait for the on-again, off-again shrimp season to really get underway.
Dave Burrage, Mississippi State University Extension Service professor of marine resources at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, said shrimp season might have opened too early this year.
“Shrimp season opened June 3 with the full moon, but then we had a lot of rainfall that washed the little shrimp from the estuaries,” Burrage said. “When that happened, all the waters north of the Intracoastal Waterway were temporarily closed to shrimp boats on June 18.”
Young shrimp live in inland bayous and waterways known as estuaries, where they grow before moving out into the Gulf of Mexico. When temperatures are high, shrimp grow quickly in the warm waters.
State law limits the size of shrimp that can be caught commercially to a minimum of 68 shrimp per pound.
“The big boats are headed to Texas for their shrimp opening July 15,” Burrage said. “The production we’re seeing now are the fishermen working the small boats in the Mississippi Sound. For the in-shore fleet, it’s been slim pickings. Those wishing to come down and fill their cooler with large shrimp should wait a couple of weeks for the shrimp to grow some more.”
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is responsible for opening and closing shrimp season in the state.