The shrimp season began April 1, but fishermen didn't begin trawling for the cold water crustacean until Thursday. Processors and fishermen couldn't agree on a price for nearly two weeks.
'Insurmountable odds, and we pulled it off," said Nick Edwards, the secretary for the Shrimp Producers Marketing Cooperative, which negotiated the opening price for its 32 vessel members with Pacific Seafood.
After one in person meeting and 11 conference calls, Edwards said the two groups were at a stalemate until another processor, Hallmark Fisheries, offered their fishermen a higher price. The boats that fished for Hallmark headed out and the rest of the processors quickly followed suit, Edwards said.
This year's shrimp price is now higher than last year's, he added, although the increase won't make up for skyrocketing gas prices.
'I burn 320 gallons of diesel a day," Edwards said. 'That is a huge expense when you are paying $4.65 a gallon. You're going to spend $1,000 a night."
Still, international demand for Oregon's cold water shrimp could mean an even bigger payday soon, Edwards said.
Catch rates have also been steadily climbing in the last three years, said Brad Pettinger, the director of the Oregon Trawl Commission.
This spring, cold weather has delayed the shrimps' reproductive cycles; some shrimp still have eggs, which is uncommon for April, Pettinger said.
'This winter is hanging on," Pettinger said. 'Right now, the conditions aren't as conducive to shrimp. But we're anticipating a really good year this year."
The shrimp season will continue through Oct. 31, Pettinger said. Coos Bay has historically led the way in shrimp production in Oregon.
Last year, Charleston fishermen landed more than 21 million pounds of shrimp. The next highest port was Newport, with roughly 14 million pounds.
Pettinger suspects this season will be no different, despite the jolting start.
'The fleet is in the water," he said. 'Instead of having a seven month season, they will have a six-and-a-half month season."
Reporter Jessie Higgins can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or firstname.lastname@example.org.