Shrimp small, inshore season late _lowres

Advocate file photo by Mark Saltz

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission unanimously approved the state’s fall inshore shrimp season to open at 6 p.m. Aug. 15 in waters from the Louisiana-Mississippi line to the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island.

Shrimpers and shrimp lovers will have to wait much later than usual to catch and eat shrimp from Louisiana's "inside" waters after the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted the latest opening days for the Spring Inshore Shrimp season in a generation.

Inside waters in the Barataria, Terrebonne and Vermilion-Teche basins will open at 6 a.m. May 26. A week later, June 2, the waters throughout the Pontchartain, and Mermentau-Calcasieu-Sabine basins will be open to trawling beginning a 6 a.m.

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' marine biologist Marty Bourgeois, the agency's Shrimp Study leader, told the commission that staff sampling on April 27 showed "extremely small shrimp" in most state near-coastal waters.

"In the Lake Pontchartrain Basin, we found shrimp as small as 2,000 count," Bourgeois told the commission.

The term "count" refers to the number of shrimp it takes to make one pound.

The spring season usually is the time when shrimpers take brown shrimp, although, Bourgeois said, there are marketable sized white shrimp in the Vermilion-Teche area.

Citing a factor of 10 millimeters growth per day for brown shrimp, Bourgeois said the staff projections indicates that 50 percent of the brown shrimp in each area would reach 100 count in late May or early June, which prompted the late opening dates.

Bourgeois did not mention environmental factors, but an unusually cold winter and continued cold fronts into the spring is one explanation for the late season. He also said the Shrimp Study staff, noting continued study into any residual effects from 2010's BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, "… will not use (current shrimp sampling) as a prediction of the overall health of the (shrimp) resource."