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Local shrimping business faces a tough year

7:38 PM, Oct 28, 2013   |    comments
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Shrimpers are struggling in St. Augustine.

The shrimp harvest has been a poor one this year.

Stacia Raybon and her fiancé own a shrimp boat in St. Augustine.

"We've been doing this for five years and this is the worst year we've seen so far," she said.

Other shrimpers such as David Ponce are also hurting.

"This year we're down 75 percent of what we normally catch," he noted.

They say they are still netting white shrimp, but the catch is so much smaller than usual.

"They're just not out there," Raybon shook her head.

Shrimpers blame three things on the slumping shrimp numbers. 

First, there was heavy rainfall early this year.

Ponce explained, "We got a lot of rain, and we're all thinking maybe it had something to do with it. It ran the shrimp out of the river before they could get big."

Also, sharks are tearing their shrimp nets in order to get what's inside.

"Sharks this year are unbelievable," Ponce exclaimed. "I've never seen in my life sharks so bad for so long."

Jellyfish are the third terror in the shrimp slump trifecta. They clog the nets keeping the shrimp from getting in, say shrimpers.

Fewer shrimp means the wholesaler also hurts.

"It really cripples us pretty good because we don't deal with a lot of imported shrimp," Matt Sweeney said. He's the office manager at the fish house of The Seafood Shoppe.

The declining numbers mean you're paying more for local shrimp at places like the Seafood Shoppe.

"On average, it's up about $2 a pound from last year," Candice Hinds said. She's the manager at The Seafood Shoppe.

Without a doubt, it also hurts the families and people who make a living by netting shrimp off the First Coast.

"This year I don't think we'll be able to do too much," Ponce said. "We'll have to suffer. It really looks bad."

"Every now and then you might get enough to pay expenses and put something in your pocket, but it's tough," Raybon added. 

First Coast News

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