Local shrimpers struggle without help from Arthur

Local shrimpers struggle without help from Arthur
Published: Jul. 7, 2014 at 10:21 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2014 at 12:08 AM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, SC - Shrimpers at Shem Creek are expecting another poor shrimping season after not getting much rain from Hurricane Arthur.

"We were needing a little boost," Larry Cobb, a shrimper for 35 years, said. "All of us need a little boost."

Rain pushes shrimp out of the rivers and creeks and into the ocean, making it easier for shrimpers to catch them.

"It was just a little bit of rain, but not enough to get the rain to where it would flush the actuaries out into the ocean where we could get to the shrimp," Cobb said. "It means a lot of shrimpers aren't going be here next year."

Shrimpers in Charleston have seen two bad seasons in a row because of a lack of rain.

"Rain makes shrimp grow, and it keeps the nutrients stirred up in the marshes and stuff for the shrimp to grow off of," Cobb said.

Cobb said things in Shem Creek have changed a lot since he started working there.

"We went through the heyday," Cobb said. "We're in the final stage of commercial shrimping in Shem Creek. It used to be you could almost walk across this creek 10 years ago on boats, and now you've got seven actually actively shrimping.

Monday, Cobb caught 43 pounds before he had to come back. On a good day he could catch 300.

"The cost of fuel is too high, and anything you buy for a shrimp boat is twice as high as it was last year and it's going to be higher next year," Cobb said.

Shrimpers in the area are struggling and recently, Wando Shrimp went out of business.

"That's one of the things I've worked for is to have something that could stand the hard times, and my small boat is still more economical than the big ones," Cobb said. "But you've got to produce a lot of shrimp to keep market for them, and we aren't doing it."

Without more rain and help from consumers, it may be a lost fight.

"Try to support your local shrimper the best you can cause they may not be here next year," Cobb said. "A lot of them won't. That's what's so sad."

Because of a disease affecting imports from Asia, shrimp prices are up 61 percent in the United States this year. Cobb said that's a big help for local shrimpers, but they'll still have to keep up with demand if they want to stay in business.