Commercial shrimp landings have continued a decade-long slide after a 5-million pound high in 1995. In 2006, the state Department of Natural Resources reported a nearly 2.4 million pound (heads-off) catch, close to the 2.5 million pounds that was netted in 2005. Last year, DNR saw a meager 1.75 million pounds of shrimp caught by commercial shrimpers, an increasingly endangered species in this area. George Steele, the data manager for commercial fisheries statistics at DNR, says the preliminary numbers for 2008 are around 1.5 million pounds and will probably top off at about the same as last year. “It’s down drastically,” he says, “and that’s almost totally a function of reduced effort. Prices in recent years have been so abysmally poor, costs keep going up, and people just don’t want to work that hard. It’s some nasty work. It’s hard to find people that are willing to show up at 4 a.m. and get covered in fish and slime. This is not Deadliest Catch kind of glamour.”

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