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Shrimpers prepare for Gulf season

By adriana_acosta
July 14, 2011 at 2:14 a.m.

Guadalupe Garcia winds up rope aboard the shrimp boat "Little Ernie" at the Port of Palacios as he and a crew of three other men prepare for a six-week shrimping trip in the Gulf of Mexico. Shrimp boats left the port at all times of the day on Thursday.

Two men hoist a fine, green net from the side of a boat and wrap it tightly. The smell of gas is heavy as people fuel their boats.

It's a busy morning at the Port of Palacios as hundreds of boats ready to set sail to the Gulf in search of brown shrimp.

"It has been very hectic these last couple of days," said David Aparicio, part owner of Anchor Seafood in Palacios.

Many are pulling nets from boats, testing equipment, fueling boats and stocking up food.

Twelve of his boats, with a four-man crew each, will set sail to prepare for the Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season, which will open 30 minutes after sunset Friday.

Each boat will sail into the Gulf for 30 to 60 days.

Aparicio is part of the multi-generation shrimping families that still head to the bay and Gulf during open season.

His family has shrimped for more than 80 years in Palacios.

"It all began with my dad and uncle, and soon it became a family affair," he said.

His brothers, sisters and his children are involved in the family business.

"I have been part of this business since I was a kid," he said.

His boats depart for the Gulf before the season begins.

"We leave early so that we can set up and rest before we begin to shrimp," he said.

Some of his boats will head to Brownsville and others toward Louisiana.

Each shrimp boat captain has a different favorite spot they work in, he said.

Once the season opens, they will be able to store brown shrimp in amounts equivalent to two-18 wheelers, he said. Each shrimp boat has commercial freezers for the shrimp.

Aparicio has high hopes for the season, but he said shrimpers never know what to expect.

"Every year we hope for a good season. We follow where the shrimp is," he said.

Also Aparicio said shrimping should be good because of the hot weather and lack of rain. Last year's oil spill in the Gulf remains on shrimpers' minds, but he said he thinks that won't hurt the season.

The shrimping crews have to be dedicated because the work requires them to be out at sea for long periods of time, Aparicio said.

"You have to love the sea and being in the water to appreciate this kind of job," he said. "It's hard work but can also be enjoyable."

Aparicio's company sells the shrimp to several companies, including H-E-B, which came to Palacios last year and filmed a seafood commercial in the area.

"I appreciate they have tried to push the local product," he said. "It has been good since they made their presence."



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