There's an intriguing story on gear development in the upcoming March issue of NF that could help lower Gulf of Mexico shrimpers' overhead and keep their boats fishing.
The region's shrimpers have been battling a number of problems in recent years — an influx of cheap foreign product that keeps dock prices low, rampaging hurricanes, and the BP oil disaster to name just a few. However, another serious problem that's kept vessels tied to the docks is the high cost of diesel fuel.
In the March issue's Gulf/South Atlantic market report, one Apalachicola, Fla., shrimper notes that given diesel costing $3.59 per gallon, and jumbo 16-20 count heads-on shrimp only bringing $2.30 a pound, it's barely worth leaving the dock.
But a March Boats & Gear story focuses on a promising new development that could help shrimpers significantly save on fuel consumption. Fairhope, Ala., shrimper Randy Skinner has developed a radically different way of keeping shrimp nets fully open that is called the Winged Trawling System.
It's a wing-shaped device made of marine-grade aluminum that Skinner says not only spreads the net apart to its full capacity, but eliminates the drag traditional trawl doors create as they're pulled through the water. And shrimpers can run their engines at a lower rpm because the power of the boat isn't needed to keep the net spread open. As a result, fuel consumption is greatly reduced.
The Winged Trawling System offers other intriguing benefits, too, so shrimpers will find the article well-worth reading. If the system works as well for them as it has for Skinner, the region's shrimp boats may once more spend more time at sea than they do at the docks.