DNR: White Shrimp Season As High As Predicted
The spring 2016 white roe shrimp season in South Carolina was the best in 37 years. The state natural resources department reports catches of shrimp at testing sites in August were more 200 percent higher than the decade average.
In April, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources marine scientist Steve Arnott attributed the projected successful season to weather conditions. He said the influx of freshwater from 2015 flooding moved many of the crustaceans out of the marshes and into the waters where the shrimp boats are.
“All those nutrients that are brought down with the flood,” such as plankton, worms, and larvae he said. “Acted a little bit like a fertilizer within estuary. We think that is probably an extra thing that has boosted or helped them sort of growing and surviving.”
The warmest winter on record also played a factor, Arnott said.
Some commercial shrimpers at Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant benefited from the high volume. Cynthia Tarvin of Tarvin Seafood loads shrimp into a cooler for customers in an aluminum warehouse at the end of the Wando dock.
“We’ve got your shrimp in the ice,” she said.
Tarvin normally has two boats at the Shem Creek. She sells a little less than half her catch to restaurants and the rest goes to customers who buy the freshly caught shrimp at the dock. She says the season started out well.
“It has been a better year than past years and fuel prices have been low,” she said.
But South Carolina was a bright spot in an otherwise not so stable shrimp market. The state’s commercial shrimp industry is small compared its neighbors in the Southeast. Michael Ramsingh is with Urner Barry, a company that tracks food prices. He said the supply across the Gulf of Mexico is down.
“The shrimp season in Louisiana and Texas, the two top supplying fisheries to the Gulf industry were essentially a bust,” he said. “That has kind of sparked a lack of raw material available in the market, that has created a bidding war at the docks by processors for raw materials. We have seen prices rise steadily in the summer.”
The later summer is the season for brown shrimp. In South Carolina those crustaceans weren’t as plentiful as the white for Tarvin.
“We have had times where there is just none,” she said. “And there is just no shrimp. Not only no big shrimp. No shrimp.”
Tarvin is hoping the season picks up this fall. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources expects it to. The fall white shrimp crop which is the offspring of the white shrimp from early in the season is expected to be good.