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Jun 7, 2014 4:40 PM by AP

Cold and rains delay start to Miss. shrimp season

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - After a cold winter and heavy spring rains, Mississippi authorities say shrimp just aren't big enough to catch yet.

Officials with the Department of Marine Resources tell WLOX-TV that the cold and overabundance of fresh water has slowed the growth of shrimp.

The state won't open the Mississippi Sound for shrimping until the crustaceans reach a size of 68 per pound. The state measures growth of shrimp by sampling two to three times a week.

"The conditions affected the growth. It's a little bit slow, but the numbers are good and they are growing as we would expect them to. So I'm confident and looking for at least a good to average season," said Traci Floyd of Department of Marine Resources.

Officials are sampling shrimp to check for size two to three times a week.

A bacterial disease has been killing shrimp raised in ponds overseas, driving up prices earned by hard-pressed Gulf of Mexico shrimpers.

"Through the roof. We hope we stay this high," David Stewart said of prices from the deck of his father's shrimp boat.

Higher prices for the catch can help pay crew members and offset the cost of fuel and other supplies.

"Prices are high, where we want them at. Making money off of it. Keep it local around here," said crew member Christian Gasper.

Last year 250 shrimp boats took to the water on Mississippi's opening day, the highest number in five years.

Floyd said the dockside value of shrimp in Mississippi was about $20 million last year. The overall economic value was $136 million.

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