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High Hopes for Shrimp Season

It’s never been easy being a shrimper, but the competition for gulf seafood is about to heat up. The Gulf of Mexico shrimp season for both state and federal waters opens 30 minutes after sunset today, and this year because of the oil spill, the stakes could be even higher. Pat Hernandez has more.


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Federal waters, from 9 to 200 nautical miles offshore, open for shrimp season at the same time as state waters. They were closed two months ago to allow shrimp to move from the bays to the Gulf and grow to a larger, more valuable size before harvest. Tom Harvey is with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He says of the 930 Texas Gulf shrimping licenses, some will be used for bay shrimping for table fare or bait.

“Then there’s a separate Texas license issued by our agency for shrimping in Texas waters, which extend from the beach to nine nautical miles offshore. And then, if you’re gonna shrimp in federal waters out in the open gulf, that requires a permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA. The gulf shrimp fishery tends to be larger operations, sometimes fleets of boats, and they go out in much deeper water.”

Kenny Guindon with Katie’s Seafood Market in Galveston says he expects a lot of shrimp to be caught because the waters haven’t been disturbed.

“Well you know, we had the two tropical waves come across the gulf and that can change things but yeah, it’s been sitting there, it should be a good opener like it always is, and what you want is you want it to last a week instead of a few days. That’s what we’re hoping for. It was a good year last year, and we really haven’t had anything that should change that.”

The gulf oil spill has had an impact on not only the price of shrimp, but seafood as a whole. This is Matt Smith, owner of Matt’s Restaurant in League City. “We can’t recoup any, and trying to pass it on to our customers is almost impossible, because now we will run them away, and they will go to the larger restaurants, and the smaller restaurants are gonna suffer, there’s no doubt.”

Hernandez: “This is something that’s gonna be with us for quite awhile.”

Smith: “I think they’re gonna remain, increase even more so for the six months to a year. They will probably stabilize, maybe in two or three years, but we’re looking long term before we’re back to where we were before. The Gulf, from oysters to crawfish tails, to tuna to snapper, everything has increased so, it’s gonna be a long time before any of those things are stabilized again.”

Shrimpers should know in short order what impact the oil spill will have on the havest. But buyer Kenny Guindon says you won’t catch him looking elsewhere for shrimp.

“They might use imports instead of fresh gulf shrimp or something out of the local area. We’ll close the doors if we have to go to imports. We don’t sell imports, period.”

Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.

Above photo by IllinoisHorseSoldier on Flickr

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