Gulf coast woes even worry SC fishermen

Source: The Associated Press
Source: The Associated Press

By Stewart Moore - bio | email

BEAUFORT, SC (WIS) - The price of shrimp hasn't moved a lot in the past 40 years, but that was before prime shrimping waters off the Louisiana and Gulf coast were invaded by oil.

The demand may be the same, but the supply is coming up short.

"This has been one of our better price years with the Gulf," said shrimper Cameron Reaves. "It's still fluctuating. Good price, then drop right down."

The waters off South Carolina aren't polluted like the Gulf of Mexico, but that doesn't mean it's not affecting South Carolina fisherman. A lot of times they run all the way from Virginia to Mexico. It's a route they can no longer afford to take.

"We caught more shrimp down around the oil wells than in-shore," said 46-year shrimper veteran Layton Reaves.

Imagine if the South Carolina was soaked in oil. It's a thought Layton says would dock his boats and close his fresh seafood market store.

"It would shut us down completely," said Layton. "We'd have to buy out of the Gulf or North Carolina to keep going, but wouldn't be able to do anything in these waters. We have nothing but bays and if it ever got in them, like Louisiana, you're in trouble."

Layton says he will probably never shrimp off the Gulf coast again.

In the meantime, the boats in the Reaves family fleet will shrimp as much as possible, taking advantage on the recent price increase and the decent shrimping conditions. Praying that the only impact the oil spill will have here is limiting there ability to shrimp in Gulf waters.

"I hope that it stays contained where its at and not come around," said Layton. "I feel sorry for the ones over there."

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