Mid-Atlantic
News & Observer

Trawlers catching "unheard of" amounts of shrimp off Corolla

WANCHESE, N.C. -- South of the Virginia border, the shores off Corolla have become an Outer Banks hot spot to catch winter shrimp. "It's kind of new, and it's kind of related to the water warming," Mirabilio said. "Everybody's chasing them north."

Trawlers have clustered there within 3 miles of shore in recent weeks, each bringing in as much as 20,000 pounds of the delicacy per trip.

Last week, the "Capt. Ralph" hauled in 30,000 pounds, the most ever for the crew, said Ashley O'Neal, manager of O'Neal's Sea Harvest.

In the past, 12,000 pounds was a good catch no matter where it came from, he said.

"This 30,000-pound stuff is unheard of," O'Neal said. "We are seeing a lot of shrimp."

In 2016, North Carolina shrimpers harvested a record 13.2 million pounds, worth $28.2 million. It was a 45 percent increase over the previous year, according to state statistics. The record fell again in 2017 with a harvest of 13.9 million pounds worth $29.6 million. The 10-year average is just short of 8 million pounds. Most of the catch comes from estuaries like the Pamlico Sound.

Shrimp consumption in the United States reached a new record in 2017 at 4.4 pounds a person per year, making it America's favorite seafood, according to NOAA Fisheries. More than 90 percent of what's eaten in the U.S. comes from foreign markets raised on farms.

Wild white shrimp live less than two years and are considered an annual crop.

Sara Mirabilio, a fisheries extension specialist with the North Carolina Sea Grant, said people reported seeing the shrimping vessels from shore and wondered what they were.

"It's kind of new, and it's kind of related to the water warming," Mirabilio said. "Everybody's chasing them north."

Read full article . . .