Thursday, June 3, 2010

Biloxi Shrimping: A one-two punch and still standing









Biloxi shrimp
Small craft harbor docks
Behind the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
On the water near 777 Beach Blvd.

By Jane Feehan

Note: I first posted this last October. Just when the summer fishing season starts, we're faced with the BP oil spill. This afternoon, the first day of an early shrimping season (10 days early because of the BP disaster), I saw more boats in the Mississippi Sound than I've seen in five years. There's a sense of urgency because oil may be here in a matter of days. And the shrimpers may be gone then for who knows how long.  Buy Mississippi shrimp - support the shrimpers. 

Long before the city became known for its casinos, Biloxi was known for its shrimping industry; it’s still important to many of its residents. Stop at the docks behind the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to pick up a pound or two. Fishermen were recently asking for $2.80 a pound. That price is a steal – and a sad commentary about the plight of Coast shrimpers.

During the last few years the industry has been beleaguered by the high cost of fuel and by imports from Asia and South America. It costs more than $400 for fuel for a 14-hour shrimping trip. Imports have driven shrimp prices downward about 50 percent

Then came Hurricane Katrina; the storm destroyed many boats and shrimp habitats.

Since the record breaking hurricane in 2005, about $37 million has been approved by Congress to be distributed to Mississippi over the next few years as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service Disaster Recovery Program.

Today there are plenty of shrimp; there are not enough buyers.

You can’t stop in Biloxi without trying Gulf shrimp. “Mississippi shrimp are the Cadillac of shrimp,” said Irvin Jackson, director of seafood marketing for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.© 2009 All rights reserved.

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