National Fisherman


Young man with a plan

At age 11, Tyler Bourg has his Louisiana shrimping life mapped out

By John DeSantis

When playing with his Lego collection or Wii video game system, catching outfield flies in a baseball uniform or rapping along with Lil John tunes he's playing on his iPod, Tyler Bourg acts like a lot of other 11-year-olds.

NF August14 TylerBourgYoungShrimperBut aboard the 28-foot shrimp boat named after him — the Lil T — this Dulac, La., boy is a cool, calm fisherman. The boat, he and his parents will proudly tell you, is his. Payments for it will come out of his share of shrimping proceeds this summer, and he looks forward to the day his name is on the vessel's title as well as the bow.

"I feel very good about that boat," says Tyler, who adds a sentiment familiar to most fishermen. "I like it, but I would like something bigger."

All of 4 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 70 pounds, the Grand Caillou Middle School student, who will enter 7th grade this fall, will need to be bigger himself before he can run the Lil T or any other commercial fishing vessel solo.

He cannot have a gear license in his name until he turns 18. Although he knows how to operate the vessel's winch, Tyler avoids doing so per his mom's request. And he acknowledges that he needs more practice docking the boat accurately. But he grows more confident each time out.

Still, Tyler wants to make clear his relation to the vessel and the craft of shrimping. He's not a deckhand.

"I am a shrimper," he states. "The boat never leaves without me on it, and I am the one driving it the most."

Shrimping is a family affair for the Bourgs. Tyler's father, Kyle, a part-time shrimper, accompanies him on trips, and his mother, Mitzi, often comes along.

From the time he could walk, Tyler's feet were on a shrimp boat deck. His earliest shrimping memories were made on his grandfather Ernest Verdin's 50-foot wooden trawler the Master Christopher.

"I was 4 years old," he recalls. "I was happy. I had my own little pair of black boots."

Those trips sparked his love of shrimping. Tyler enjoys the serenity shrimping offers, "being out there with no one to bother you," he says. "Especially at night, it's so quiet," Tyler adds. "All you can hear is the sound of the boat."

But he also likes the idea of getting paid for doing something he already loves. Seeing the bags rise from the warm Louisiana waters, full of writhing, wriggling shrimp...



nf august14 cvrRead the complete article starting on page 20 of our August issue >>

Inside the Industry

NOAA recently published a proposed rule that would implement a traceability plan to help combat IUU fishing. The program would seek to trace the origins of imported seafood by setting up reporting and filing procedures for products entering the U.S.

The traceability program would collect data on harvest, landing, and chain of custody of fish and fish products that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and fraud.

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The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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