Wednesday marked the start of the commercial shrimping season in South Carolina, with fisherman taking to the water two months earlier than they had been able to do in 2018, according to a report from the Post and Courier.

A warmer winter has been cited as the reason behind the early start, the newspaper said. State shrimpers like Tommy Edwards, who works out of Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, are meeting the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ decision to open the fishery now with enthusiasm.

“It’s looking promising this year because it’s not July,” Edwards told the Post and Courier. “I don’t think we’ll see a lot of shrimp at first but at least we can get to work.”

The fishery appears to be bouncing back after experiencing the fifth worst die-off of shrimp and other species seen since the 1950’s in January 2018, when a cold snap of snow and ice rattled the region.

Better-than-average numbers of shrimp have been reported by DNR trawlers this year, and shrimpers who have been fishing in the unrestricted federal waters over three miles out from nearshore shrimping grounds have returned with “nice size, harvestable shrimp,” Mell Bell, the DNR fisheries management director, told the newspaper.

“It’s obviously too early to discuss when all of our state waters might open to trawling this year, but the opening of the provisional areas on the 24th allows at least some harvest to begin now to get locally caught product into the market,” Bell said.

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