A small portion of Texas’ commercial shrimping fleet will begin trawling state and federal waters 30 minutes after sunset on Sunday with modified gear that could increase their catch by as much as 10 percent while limiting the amount of unwanted species caught to federally acceptable levels.Texas Sea Grant College Program Fisheries Specialist Gary Graham (foreground) measures the angle of a turtle excluder device in a shrimp net aboard a boat in Brownsville to confirm it complies with federal regulations. Tony Reisinger photo.
For an industry that frequently operates on a razor thin margin between profitability and going out of business, 10 percent represents a very significant economic impact, says Gary Graham, Fisheries Specialist with the Texas Sea Grant College Program, who was instrumental in developing and testing the equipment.
“If you’re talking about a boat that grosses $300,000 to $400,000 per year, then they are looking at grossing $30,000 to $40,000 more,” Graham said. “That’s a huge amount to them.”