South Carolina shrimping season starts early

BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - The shrimping industry kicked off early this year and shrimpers in South Carolina say it's looking like it could be a pretty good year. Larry Toomer of the Bluffton Oyster Company started his season by pulling in their bounty off of his boat "Daddy's Girls" and bringing it ashore.  Shrimpers are now allowed to start a limited season in provisional waters, three miles away from shore. At first, Toomer told his wife, Tina, he wasn't sure what kind of first day it was going to be.

"You know honey, you got four on the deck, you left here with none, so, whatever we get is fine with us," said Tina Toomer.

But, the day wasn't even close to being over.

"Well, we got about 1,000 pounds yesterday. About 700 pounds with the heads off and that's a good day, I'll take that six days a week any day," says Larry Toomer.

The shrimp that they caught are called white shrimp. What is so good about this catch is that they've already laid their eggs, which could mean a great fall season. Toomer says that means those shrimp will be ready to catch and eat in the fall.  In the meantime, he and his crew have a long summer ahead of them as they work to pull in about 1,000 pounds of shrimp per day.  And hope that diseases and hurricanes don't ruin this year's crop.

"I'm just excited to do it. I see them they come with a lot of things, and there's shrimp and fish and a lot of things here and there and its an exciting experience," says rookie shrimper, Tony Gray.

Larry and his crew hope the full season will kick off soon, which the Department of Natural Resources says though they do not have a firm date, it should be sometime in the next few weeks. Last year's spring shrimping season off the shores of South Carolina netted 350,000 pounds of shrimp worth about $7 million.

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