Start of shrimp season arrives with shortages expected

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

GALVESTON, Texas - At 30 years old, Cpt. Donnie Brannon of Galveston pilots his 50-foot shrimp boats back to port, on what has been one miserable day for shrimping.

His catch for eight hours of work is just under half what he was hoping for.

"We should have had six boxes, 600 pounds no problem," he said. "All we got was 300 pounds."

A huge shortage of imported shrimp drove prices sky high last year, after a shrimp-killing bacteria swept through Asia.

Now, a year later, that shortage is still pushing the cost of shrimp to record levels.

"Prices are 30 percent higher for shrimp this year," says Nick Gutierrez, owner of Katie's Seafood in Galveston.

The forecast for catching shrimp along the Texas Gulf Coast is weak as well.

"We've just finished shrimping the bay for brownies (small brown shrimp), and we didn't get much, it was a tough scrape season," Brannon said. "Now, we move on to the Gulf to see what happens, but I'm not expecting much. I mean we will give it our best but I'm not expecting to see anything."

As for what that will do to shrimp prices that we all pay at the grocery store, Nick Gutierrez says expect to pay.

"These are the highest prices I've ever seen," he said.

Tuesday at midnight, the Gulf shrimp season begins. Local fishermen hope to find the heavy shrimp, they depend on to make big money.

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