Get ready to eat!
The long-delayed South Carolina shrimp harvesting season could open partially as early as Wednesday, officials say.
The season usually starts in mid-May, but the January storm that blanketed the Lowcountry in snow and a cool spring affected the shrimp population.
"When water temperatures get below 9 degrees Celsius and they stay that way, shrimp start dying," Mel Bell, director of the Office of Fisheries Management for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, previously told The Island Packet.
State officials have been conducting test catches in shrimping areas to determine whether the size and number of shrimp spawning would merit opening the season.
Bell told WCIV that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration likely will open federal waters 3 miles off the coast of South Carolina to commercial shrimp trawling as early as Wednesday.
The television station reported that the reopening of state waters could follow, but officials had not set a timetable.
There are about 400 licensed commercial shrimpers in South Carolina, with about 50 permitted to fish in federal waters, WCIV reported.
Beaufort County shrimpers have appeared to take the delay in stride.
"The only thing we can do is wait until the fall crop," said Larry Toomer, owner of the Bluffton Oyster Company dock and companion restaurant in Old Town Bluffton. "The shrimp that spawn this time of year is what we catch in September, October, November, December."
Georgia has had its federal and state waters closed to shrimpers since January's storm.