There’s something idyllic about watching shrimp boats drag their nets in the Gulf of Mexico or wedge through the nickel-gray waters of Galveston harbor, pelicans perched regally on their bows, circled by seagulls, trailed by dolphins. Trawlers at docks or in sunset silhouettes give visitors a sense of the place they may have imagined when they booked their seaside escapes. The boats also offer glimpses of a traditional way of life and an industry built largely by European immigrants; the last traces of it, perhaps.
Shrimp boats around the county are the nearest many tourists will ever get to a class of people who for years have risen long before the sun to ply their trade chasing a product that is the staple of many a Gulf Coast meal. What they catch make their way to bait shops, seafood markets, restaurants and home kitchens, and into our gumbos, fried seafood platters and ceviche.
Shrimp is the favorite seafood among U.S. consumers, many of whom know little about how the tasty crustaceans landed on their plates.
“People go to a restaurant and eat shrimp and think it’s so easy to catch them,” said Johnny Marullo, captain of the Rock Bottom, which docks at Pier 19 in Galveston’s harbor.
But making a living off the shrimp isn’t easy these days and hasn’t been for years, Marullo said.
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