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Cold front could be saving grace for shrimpers

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Updated: 10/24/2013 7:47 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Saying this year has been tough for shrimpers is an understatement. But there was a chill in the air Thursday -- a cold front that could be a saving grace.

The name on the side of one shrimp boat says it all: "Dying Breed."

"A shrimper are poor today and rich tomorrow," said shrimper Andy King.

The livelihood of a shrimper has always been a gamble. But this year they've been dealt an awful hand.

"This year has been super bad. Maybe the worst year I've ever seen in my life," said shrimper Elton Jackson.

Inside Miss Becky Seafood, looks are deceiving. You'd think a the full table of shrimp that came in Thursday morning was a good day's work for the shrimp headers.

You'd be wrong.

"Up to 30,000 shrimp that we have to head to make $20," said shrimp header Frankie Harrell. "This is a hard way to make a dollar."

But Thursday, there was a glimmer of hope. The workers traded T-shirts for hooded sweatshirts. And that is a sign the tides may be turning.

"The cold front is always good for us. The water gets cold, the temperature gets down so the shrimps pop their heads out and when they do we are going to be there to get 'em," said King.

Enough to turn their luck around? The shrimpers said they sure hope so. But no matter how bad it gets, the captains won't abandon their boats. At the end of the day, they've come to learn money isn't everything.

"I love my work. Always have," Jackson said. "Even when it's tough."

Less shrimp means higher prices and that's causing problems for local restaurants, too. Right now all they can do wait and see what happens.

Shrimpers say another part of the problem is an increase in sharks and jellyfish in the water, keeping the shrimp at bay.
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