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Shrimping season coming to end in Georgia

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 4:19 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The 2021 commercial and recreational shrimping season officially comes to an end Friday night in Georgia.

That affects shrimping operations from the coastline to three miles out to sea.

Pat Mathews has operated Lazaretto Packing for decades. Over the years he’s seen the fleet of shrimp boats that pull up to his dock dwindle as operation costs increase faster than the price of shrimp, forcing many owners out of the business.

For those captains able to stick around, less competition off Georgia’s coast means more shrimp for them.

“Thanks to the global warming and the mild winters, we don’t have the migration like we used to have in the wintertime when it got cold,” Mathews said.

Mathews says that means more shrimp stay in the area into the new year, making for a larger spawn in the spring. And that’s exactly what happened to start the 2021 season.

“This year we had plenty of roe shrimp, enough to make us all millionaires,” Mathews said.

Mathews says those big hauls continued into the summer. But a familiar foe of shrimpers showed up again this year, putting a dent in the local shrimp population.

“We had the black gill disease again this year. It usually shows up in August and disappears about September. This year it hung around until about the end of October, first of November,” Mathews said.

Mathews believes that disease played a big role in dwindling numbers of shrimp that they’d normally catch this time of year.

The numbers were so low, and shrimp so small, local shrimping operations didn’t even contest the DNR closing the season for the first time in years. So now, Mathews and the shrimp fishermen that he works with are hoping for a mild winter that will lead to a good start to the 2022 season.

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