CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Commercial shrimp trawling will open in all legal South Carolina waters at 8 a.m. Wednesday, officials with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources say.
The agency's biologists are cautiously optimistic about the coming season.
"So far we've seen indications that it should be a good year," Mel Bell, director of SCDNR's Office of Fisheries Management, said. "Of course, after establishing the opening date, based on the condition of the resource, we have no control over how things will go. The success of the season will be up to the hard work of the fishermen and the environmental conditions they encounter throughout the year."
Preceded by a record fall flooding event and bookended by two abnormally warm winters, commercial trawlers netted just shy of two million pounds with a $7.8 million dockside value in the 2016 shrimp season. In 2015, they harvested $8.5 million.
DNR says South Carolina's commercial shrimp calendar has three peak periods. In the spring, shrimpers focus on the influx of roe white shrimp — large, early-season shrimp that generally fetch higher prices and generate the most value for fishing effort. The summer months are defined by a peak in brown shrimp, DNR officials say, which are similar to white shrimp in size and taste. In the fall and into winter, shrimpers once again bring white shrimp to the docks.
Showers and thunderstorms are expected to cross the Lowcountry Wednesday, with stronger storms possibly producing damaging wind gusts.