Video: Shrimping on the Gulf

posted at 9:30 am on November 20, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

I decided to break this video out from the interviews I did in the earlier post in order to draw attention to a couple of points. First, as the video of the Biloxi Shrimping Trip tour shows, the bottom of the Gulf in this area does not contain tar balls or any other kind of contaminant.  The second point is the diversity of the seafood that one finds in the region.

This particular demonstration is just that — a shrimping trawl on a very small scale.  Even a 15-minute drag with a small net captures a large amount of seafood, however, and a few things that turn out to be somewhat dangerous.  This haul had two stingrays, but it’s not unusual for regular shrimping trawlers who go farther out to pick up sharks, which can make a deck lively for a few minutes.

According to Mike Moore, who narrated and helped demonstrate the process of shrimping, sharks and stingrays are among the least of the worries for shrimpers these days.  Many of them bought boats that may run between one to two million dollars, and who took out large notes over the last few years without realizing what impact a catastrophe like the Gulf oil spill might have on consumer psychology.  Even without that, the shrimpers are having to push the envelope on shrimping season and have become much more apt to keep moving along the coast to follow the warm weather and extend their efforts to a year-round cycle, where in past years they would tend to stay put in one area and take the winter off.

The water here is dark, and more than one person to whom I spoke over the last couple of years went out of their way to insist that this is normal and has nothing to do with the oil spill.  The silt in this area is dark-gray, which is why the sand turns white when bleached by the sun.  This is one reason why the Gulf is so rich in seafood; as Bob Mahoney told us, “There’s a lot of lovin’ going on in the mud.”  They like to say that the water is the color of gumbo.  It’s actually reminiscent of the California coast, where the Pacific is normally murky, so it didn’t strike me as odd at all.

In the beginning of the video, you’ll see some commercial trawlers.  Many of these are owned and operated by Vietnamese shrimpers, who came to the area to ply their traditional trade in the US.  Mike Jones, our tour guide from the Mississippi Development Authority, said that every immigrant wave has had its try at the Gulf seafood trade, and that the Vietnamese-Americans are the latest in a long tradition in the Biloxi-Gulfport area.  Normally the shrimp you see being weighed in this clip would be sold off the back of the boats for about $3 a pound, but the price was $4 a pound yesterday as the season is coming to an end.  These were very large shrimp, great for cooking or grilling.

One last note: the man who pulls in the nets in this clip is the same man who greeted us by singing and playing his 12-string guitar as shown in the clip; as it turns out, he only sings his own songs, and has a CD coming out soon.


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Thanks for showing this to us. I feel a bit better eating gulf coast seafood now. You did what the government couldn’t do.
PS:
If you’re ever in CT, you can search out my father in law so he can take you on his lobster boat.

mizflame98 on November 20, 2010 at 9:34 AM

I was just talking to a friend about this yesterday and if we wanted to stop in NO on a roadtrip? Thanks Ed now the answer is YES!

HAExpert on November 20, 2010 at 9:42 AM

This post is NOT brought to you by BP Shrimp because their shrimp comes pre-oiled.

Seriously, one of these years I’ll have to make that road trip for fresh-off-the-boat shrimp.

steveegg on November 20, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.

-Bubba

LegendHasIt on November 20, 2010 at 9:50 AM

If you’re ever in CT, you can search out my father in law so he can take you on his lobster boat.

mizflame98 on November 20, 2010 at 9:34 AM

He must do the Long Island Sound for his lobster traps, no?

We’re finally having some lobster population grow again in the Sound. Huge percentages of the population died out back in the early 2000′s due to disease. I worked in the industry during all my teenage years, and by the time I was 20, the lobsters were starting to come back, alhamdilillah.

blatantblue on November 20, 2010 at 9:51 AM

Sorry, but I have not eaten any shrimp since the gulf oil spill.

Still not sure about eating any in the future.

texasconserv on November 20, 2010 at 9:51 AM

LegendHasIt on November 20, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Comment of the Day™ (yeah, I’m lazy; I also love shrimp)

steveegg on November 20, 2010 at 9:54 AM

We’re glad you could make it down to the Magnolia State, Ed.

kingsjester on November 20, 2010 at 9:56 AM

The worst was working during the holiday season to sell shrimp. Do you know how much freaking shrimp we had to open? Dear Allah, it was so much. You’d stand in one spot for five hours just opening shrimp. I honestly began to have dreams of shrimp. No joke

blatantblue on November 20, 2010 at 9:57 AM

I mean, do you know how much shrimp people eat on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve? It’s RIDICULOUS.

I’m not a big shrimp guy, to be honest.

I like a few of them, but after five or six I get a bit tired.

Now clams and mussels, that is a different story. You people need to have a good Peconic Bay Scallop. Those bastards are so good, but are rare due to being wiped out by brown tide.

We used to pop them open out in the water raw and eat ‘em. So sweet and delish

blatantblue on November 20, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Many of them bought boats that may run between one to two million dollars, and who took out large notes over the last few years without realizing what impact a catastrophe like the Gulf oil spill might have on consumer psychology.

WITHOUT REALIZING CONSUMER PSYCHOLOGY?

Ed, you make shrimpers out to be dumber than dumb. They invested in their business knowing full well what to expect given an oil spill from a ship, or a rig, and even what to expect should the unthinkable occur as with the unprecedented BP oil gusher fracturing open an entire region of the ocean floor. But expectations were shattered by Obama’s orders.

Without realizing how bad Obama was for themselves would be accurate. Not many people expected Obama to be as bad as he is for America.

What shrimpers did not expect was the degree of regulatory corruption from the top down that prevented enforcement of regulations, leading to the inevitable result from monumental non-compliance. The disaster of massive proportion was compounded FURTHER by Obama himself. He refused the industry to respond to the crisis, prolonging the gusher. Then he ordered the chemical industry to spread the oil further and further “dispersing” it, and to sink the oil and dispersing chemicals from the surface rather than allow surface clean-up. This was most cruel to ocean life, everything below the surface caught up and killed in methane and the invisible chemical agents. Then all life on the ocean floor was coated and killed with chemically altered oil in greater proportion than was necessary had surface cleanup occurred immediately via available successful collection methods.

Of course the Gulf shrimp industry hurts. And shrimpers know exactly what to expect from the public, or how consumer psychology plays out to the shrimpers’ disadvantage: “Better safe than sorry.” It’s a crying shame.

maverick muse on November 20, 2010 at 10:07 AM

blatantblue on November 20, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Scallops, ooooooaaaah, I salivate at the memory.

maverick muse on November 20, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Many of them bought boats that may run between one to two million dollars, and who took out large notes over the last few years without realizing what impact a catastrophe like the Gulf oil spill might have on consumer psychology

I would imagine their insurance premiums are also outta sight?

Del Dolemonte on November 20, 2010 at 10:17 AM

No no no! This just can’t be! Liberals know that there is a ‘plume’ of oil somewhere in the Gulf! It’s not pure oil, it’s some kind of mist! It’s not on the bottom, it’s not on the top, and they can’t find it but they know it’s there somewhere! You haters just don’t want to find the plume.

More: Sea Life Flourishes in Gulf

slickwillie2001 on November 20, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Scallops, ooooooaaaah, I salivate at the memory.

maverick muse on November 20, 2010 at 10:11 AM

peconic bay scallops are the worlds BEST!!!

blatantblue on November 20, 2010 at 10:19 AM

blatantblue on November 20, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Scallops, ooooooaaaah, I salivate at the memory.

maverick muse on November 20, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Get up here to New England-we have great Bay scallops and also wonderful Sea scallops, and up in Nova Scotia they are even more serious about them than we are!

Some folks here in New England even eat scallops for breakfast.

Del Dolemonte on November 20, 2010 at 10:20 AM

What shrimpers did not expect was the degree of regulatory corruption from the top down…

As did the tuna seine guys under Regean, as did the PNW salmon non-Indian net fishermen under Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.

You are pretty much screwed under politicians of all stripes, if you commercially fish as a profession.

Friendly21 on November 20, 2010 at 10:21 AM

without realizing what impact a catastrophe like the Gulf oil spill might have on consumer psychology.

It wasn’t the disaster. It was the MFM reporting of the disaster. They were so eager to demonize BP, they went to great lengths to depict it as the Apocalypse without any regard for the truth or what impact the sensational reporting would have on shrimpers or anybody else for that matter. I blame the maggots in the media. They can do more damage than a months long oil spill.

forest on November 20, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Living near the gulf…in Texas though….I’ve been buying shrimp, and seafood all through the crisis. Haven’t had any problems with taste, quality, or anything.

Think I’ll get some shrimp for supper! ;)

capejasmine on November 20, 2010 at 10:23 AM

I’ve been buying Gulf shrimp all along. The Texas shrimp fishery never was shut down for the spill, as far as I know. I’d like to go on a tour like this one–I wonder if there’s one on the Texas coast.

We went on a crab boat tour in Alaska this past summer, and saw how they fish for king crab, prawns, and halibut. My husband and I both really enjoyed it.

juliesa on November 20, 2010 at 10:24 AM

This’ll do to the fishing industry down there what BSE did to our cattle industry.
I wish consumers were a little smarter than this.
That’s why it’s imperative for the news to get their $hit straight when they report something.
Their scare’em crap puts whole industries, economies, & professions at risk & all they care about is ratings.
I hope these people can come out of this.
Shrimping/Fishing=Farming=Ranching.
We know what they’re going through.

Badger40 on November 20, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Del Dolemonte on November 20, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Can’t beat a good PEI mussel, either.

blatantblue on November 20, 2010 at 10:27 AM

I ate Gulf shrimp at the Islandview Casino last weekend – and they were some of the hugest and most delicious I’ve ever tasted. They were awesome.

I have to tell you – when the oil spill occurred – I always felt we would be okay – I never buy into the “hype” and “fear” peddled by the greedy science community and tree huggers. However – logically – I did think it would take a few years before we got back to normal.

But, now – I’M STUNNED at how little all that oil affected the Gulf. Absolutely STUNNED. I can’t find anyone who lives off fishing now who will tell me that they’re suffering any ill effects of the spill.

Thank you Ed for this post and thanks for going out in the Gulf to do this research for yourself. You really did a service to us down here on the Gulf Coast – but more importantly – you’re helping to dispel the fear-mongering myths of the haters on the left.

HondaV65 on November 20, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Gulf brown shrimp are the best. Used to go down to the boats and buy them right off because that wasn’t what You could get in the grocery store, usually from South America or Asia. We have a very large vietnamese populatio here in SE Texas.

lizzie beth on November 20, 2010 at 10:35 AM

Get yourself a fried oyster po’boy while your there. extra mayo and Tabasco.

I bought 50 ponds of shrimp for 10 bucks near my house in League City Texas once.

Me and some buddies caught 300 lbs with a cast net in the surf of Galveston one day.

esnap on November 20, 2010 at 10:42 AM

He must do the Long Island Sound for his lobster traps, no?

We’re finally having some lobster population grow again in the Sound. Huge percentages of the population died out back in the early 2000′s due to disease. I worked in the industry during all my teenage years, and by the time I was 20, the lobsters were starting to come back, alhamdilillah.

blatantblue on November 20, 2010 at 9:51 AM

Yup, that’s where he lobsters. I never tasted lobster so good until he cooked some up the last time we visited. I thought my husband was good at cooking lobster, but his dad is the master.

mizflame98 on November 20, 2010 at 10:47 AM

As the “crow fly’s” I am about 27 miles north of the Gulf here in south Louisiana. The shrimp are fine to eat as well as the fish out of the Gulf. It is amazing how the Gulf heals itself.

Teleycoman on November 20, 2010 at 10:52 AM

mizflame98 on November 20, 2010 at 10:47 AM

Can’t beat it. IDK if I could ever live in the interior.

I mean, they have great meats, but I’d miss my seafood too much. I can walk down a hill to an oyster patch. I can’t give that up!!!

blatantblue on November 20, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Thanks for posting the clip!

Blake on November 20, 2010 at 11:05 AM

It is amazing how the Gulf heals itself. Teleycoman on November 20, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Since oil occurs naturally it’s just a question of how long it takes for creation to do the clean up. Sorta like a volcano. The skies clear again after a while (sorry Al) and all the nasty stuff is cleaned up.

Mojave Mark on November 20, 2010 at 11:09 AM

I’m ten minutes away from where they bring most of the shrimp in. Nothing wrong with the shrimp at all.

I’m sure that China appreciated Obama’s help in vilifying Gulf shrimp production though.

darclon on November 20, 2010 at 11:12 AM

I dont eat inverts, but I’m really glad…not surprised, mind, just happy–that there’s plenty of seafood for y’all. Mother earth takes crises in stride, even big ones like the K-T meteor. It might take a while for her to clean things up, but she always does.

Bob's Kid on November 20, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Sorry, but I have not eaten any shrimp since the gulf oil spill.

Still not sure about eating any in the future.

texasconserv on November 20, 2010 at 9:51 AM

You sir are dumber than dumb.

Here is actually what happened.

Zero’s administration saw a way to cut the “testicles” off the locals by issuing fishing bans where none was needed.
Dumber than dumb so called conservatives came down here from the East Coast to interview “locals” and show how bad Zero caused the Gulf to be polluted. Morons across the country believed all the nonsense.

What actually happened, at least in Louisiana, is that the brown shrimp harvest (the late spring/early summer season) was expected to be a much larger harvest than recent years. Suddenly, clean unspoiled waters were placed off limit to shrimping.

A neighbor of mine (environmentalist biology professor) has a camp accessible only by boat. He, his wife and young son normally use a “test” trawl which is 6 feet wide at the mouth, for catching shrimp to use as bait for fishing. In two short 15 minute drags, he caught more than enough for that week’s fishing. He ended up bringing home 25 pounds of shrimp tails for their deep freezer.

As for shrimp, most locals prefer white shrimp to brown shrimp. The white shrimp season is in the late summer/early fall.

Every freakin moron who has bought into all the EPA, environmentalist brainwashing technique (which includes a great many “conservatives”) is put off by water that is not crystal clear. We have something down here called the Mississippi River, which dumps enormous quantities of silt which spreads out to the east and west of its mouth. This “dirty” water fosters the most prolific seafood industry in the entire U.S. Alaska pales in comparison.

Kermit on November 20, 2010 at 11:32 AM

I just got back yesterday from an oil platform in the Gulf (Mississippi Canyon, the same block as the Horizon disaster) and there was all kinds of fish swimming around out there. It was no different than any other pre-disaster trip. When I was working on the disaster site ( I was on the Discoverer Enterprise), the day after we set the tophat the water had only a slight sheen. That cleared up the next day. The water was teeming with all kinds of fish; tuna, barracuda, sharks, ribbon fish, rainbow runners, and assorted generic fish. The Gulf has done a great job of self-remediation.

DAT60A3 on November 20, 2010 at 11:35 AM

I just got back yesterday from an oil platform in the Gulf (Mississippi Canyon, the same block as the Horizon disaster) and there was all kinds of fish swimming around out there. It was no different than any other pre-disaster trip. When I was working on the disaster site ( I was on the Discoverer Enterprise), the day after we set the tophat the water had only a slight sheen. That cleared up the next day. The water was teeming with all kinds of fish; tuna, barracuda, sharks, ribbon fish, rainbow runners, and assorted generic fish. The Gulf has done a great job of self-remediation.

DAT60A3 on November 20, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Dude, guys working at the surface, right after the well was contained, reported having never seen as much tuna ever.

Kermit on November 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Meaning, you are not the only one. But morons from up north, really don’t have a clue.

I never realized how good we have it here, regarding seafood, until I lived on the West Coast.

FYI, 75% of the “Chesapeake Blue Crabs” served in Maryland are actually imported live from Louisiana.

Kermit on November 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM

FYI, the shrimp trawl used in the clip is about the same as those used by small sport shrimpers. I know this is what my dad & I used back in the early 60′s in SW Louisiana right where oilfields located in the marshes had very little regulation.

There was a time when I knew how to make a trawl with lead weights and lead lined otter boards and all.

Kermit on November 20, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Dude, guys working at the surface, right after the well was contained, reported having never seen as much tuna ever.

Kermit on November 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM

There were feeding frenzies going on during the containment process. I was on the DD II the day that we put on the new BOP and the water looked like it was boiling because of all the fish. It was mostly black fin tuna. There must have been thousands. It was a rare sight.

DAT60A3 on November 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM

I live on the Gulf, Galveston. Have spent the better part of my life sailing up and down the Texas coast. On occasion we’d sail up beside the shrimp boat and trade beer for shrimp – yummy!

silenced majority on November 20, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Yep, you’re right about the Vietnamese. I used to live in Pensacola, and there is a large group of Vietnamese that travels to Alabama/Mississippi to go out on the shrimp boats. A couple of my good friends there used to go out on the boat for around half a year (in 1 month intervals) and then kick back during the winter/early spring.

specialkayel on November 20, 2010 at 1:39 PM

And btw, if you haven’t had it before, Gulf shrimp is freakin huge. My friends used to come back from shrimp boating every trip with a massive cooler full of the shrimp. We used to grill out for a couple weeks, and of course drink large amounts of Bud and Heineken. 3-4 of the shrimp, and you’re pretty much full.

specialkayel on November 20, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Ed:

I live in Ocean Springs…The water is that color because of the Barrier Islands…It does not allow the MS Sound to filter out the sediment from the rivers…Sth of the islands is green, clear water…

As for the seafood/fishing, it has never been better…I actually think it is better than BEFORE Katrina…Thanks for comin’ done and taking an honest opinion back with you….

wldfowlr on November 20, 2010 at 2:56 PM

I was born and raised in New Orleans. I spent several summers in Biloxi, Mississippi (divorced parents). And, yes, that is how the water looks. It is very brown and very muddy naturally. So, all is good. :) :) :)

Theophile on November 20, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Sorry, but I have not eaten any shrimp since the gulf oil spill.

Still not sure about eating any in the future.

texasconserv on November 20, 2010 at 9:51 AM

Oil is a natural organic compound, naturally found in waters all over the world. Life has evolved to deal with oil as it seeps out of the ground. In water, there are bacteria that eat it, especially in warm waters. That’s why the oil from the spill disappeared so much quicker than off the coast of Alaska.

The only danger from it was along the coastline where it gunks stuff up as it washes ashore. Even that would have been dealt with naturally if people hadn’t have destroyed the natural barrier islands and marshes. They are there to filter stuff out and to protect from storms.

Natural Oil Seeps

Common Sense on November 20, 2010 at 3:53 PM

From my Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/2alfckd

http://tinyurl.com/27uwu7h

These were taken on Orange Beach about a month ago. The fishing was great, the beaches are great, the water is clear, etc. The media that destroyed the tourism in this area should be taken out back and shot. There are businesses that will never recover from the overblown “tar ball beaches” stories.

di butler on November 20, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Concern over the Macondo blowout and Gulf seafood is pretty scientifically unfounded.

More oil flows down the Mississippi in five days than was released in the entirety of the oil spill. More detergents flow down the Mississippi in 13 minutes than Corexit was applied at the site.

But beyond all that. In a very real and very true sense, oil is the basis for the gulf food web, oil is what makes the Gulf one of the most productive fisheries in the world. From day one of the spill the focus has been 180 degrees away from where it should have been and thousands upon thousands of jobs were destroyed by the Obama administrations kneejerk reaction.

Over 100,000 samples have been examined by University scientists at LSU, Ole Miss, UofA, Auburn, FSU and Miami and ZERO specimines have had contamination from the Macondo blowout.

Jason Coleman on November 20, 2010 at 4:35 PM