SNEADS FERRY, NC (WWAY) -- A popular seafood item at many restaurants is either disappearing from menus or being replaced by catch that is not from the Carolinas. The reason is the number of native shrimp has significantly dwindled, and the weather is to blame.
"It's not normal at all," shrimp boat captain Mack Liverman said. "Usually by this time of year we would have three weeks if not a month of shrimping in."
Instead Millis and Sons Seafood Company in Sneads Ferry is a ghost town. Liverman is a 50-year veteran of these waters.
He says a shortage of shrimp this year is because of the unusually harsh winter.
"The cold weather kills off the row shrimp and the pink shrimp," Liverman said. "This has happened two or three times in the past 30 years, I guess, that I can remember."
The marinas are usually busy here by late April, but it's early June and there's no one to be seen.
"The price of fuel is so high you can't run out an look very much," Liverman said. "If the price of fuel was down, say a dollar a gallon from what it is now, you might be able to find a place or two that you could catch a handful of shrimp, but with the price of fuel you can go five or six thousand dollars backwards real quick."
Shrimpers in Sneads Ferry are definitely feeling the effects of the cold winter, and now so are local seafood restaurants.
"We take pride in serving local shrimp," said Alan Solando, manager of Capt. Jim's Seafood Restaurant. "As soon as we can get it we'll be putting local shrimp back on the menu, until then we have to get it from louisiana."
Liverman says they will hit the water mid-June. He encourages consumers that they should eat local again soon.
"People need to eat local shrimp," he said. "Try to stay away from imports. Eat North Carolina shrimp and don't complain about the price, because we're suffering too."
Capt. Liverman also says that shrimp cannot survive in 40-45 degree water for more than a few days. That's why their numbers have gone down.