Monday Feb. 22, I had a car pool trip scheduled to Brownsville to the Texas Gulf Trawling Co. It’s about a half hour drive, located at the Port of Brownsville, which the mouth opens up to the Gulf of Mexico. This company is one of the largest Shrimp Company’s in the area, with 15 boats in their fleet. At the height of the business, they had around 30 boats. They fish for shrimp from the Rio Grande River in Mexico up to Louisiana. Where they fish is according to the season of the year. The boats leave with a crew of anywhere from 3 to 6, depending on peak season. The crew consists of a captain, header, and a rigger. Their is always just one captain of course, but more of the other 2. The headers job is to dehead the shrimp when they are brought aboard. He is also a cook. The riggers are dropping the nets and bringing them in. They are the lowest pay of the jobs. They are out in the gulf for min. of 30 days, but can be up to 60 days.
When we first got their, we were taken to a metal building out by the basin. It was open to the water at the shore side. Their was 2 conveyors running from this building to a shrimp boat by the dock.
This is how the shrimp are unloaded from the boat. We were served coffee and cookies. Finally it began. The son told us the history of the business. It has always been family owned starting with his grandpa. In the 50’s they not only were building boats for others, but now built their own boats to go shrimping. At the peak year, they built 22 boats. They no longer build them. Their last boat was built in 2001. They no longer foresee building anymore as the shrimp industry in the US. is dwindling to 10 percent. The foreign markets are now flooding the stores with farm produced shrimp. Many of them contain antibiotics, growth hormones or animal byproducts. Texas Gold Shrimp are wild caught. The are caught in the deep Gulf and headed and immediately frozen to keep them fresh.
We were taken on the boat and the father continued with the tour. In the back of this picture, this boat had just come in while we were in the building. It had been out 33 days. They were now repairing and getting all their duties done. This also includes emptying their freezer before they could leave the boat. They were busy with nets and hosing of the decks. The father was full of info. He answered all the questions that were thrown at him. We seen the freezer which was in the hull. It was huge and a walk in freezer. The header came aboard and gave us a demonstration. He puts a shrimp in each hand and simply flicks the head off with each thumb. He must be extremely fast to keep up with the catch.
It is his job to dehead all the fish that is dropped on the deck as the nets are pulled up. The boat is equipped with 4 nets that are dragged on the bottom. Wooden doors on the nets, keep the mouths open as tickler chains drag the bottom and keep it stirred up, driving the shrimp into the nets. The nets are lifted every 45 mins or so to see if they are needed to dump on the deck for the header. The nets are dumped and immediately put back in the water and the header keeps deheading.
We were then allowed to walk through the cabin area…..What an Eye Opener……Not a Job for Me….
The Kitchen area….so so tiny…Their was just enough room to walk through.
The booth were they eat their meals…..Notice the edge on the table, so their food wouldn’t fall off.
Their were 2 bedrooms with bunks….The crew might have to take turns sleeping if their are more than 3.
Oh My ……the bathroom…..Rather disgusting….lol…
Then up the stairs to the captains helm.
The view from the windows…
Rich and another girl from the park, Pat in the cabin.
Nice soft seat….lol….Our neighbors Gayle and Marjo and one of the employees.
Finally time to go back in to our tables and get ready for a shrimp feed and contest….
They were preparing all the shrimp as we walked in.
The son showed us how to use a deveiner. You can devein the shrimp with out the tail or leave it on. Your Choice.
We had a contest and 2 of our girls competed against each other. Who could be fastest, Marilyn on the left or Terri on the right……Well Terri won. She LOVVVVES Shrimp. She won a free Deveiner.
Rich tried it also just to see how easy it was.
Finally it was time to try the shrimp……Well I don’t like it at Alllll……So Rich ate mine. Margo decided to try it even though she doesn’t like it…..lol
Look at that face…..hahaha….After we left, we stopped at McDonalds for me….lol…It was a very fun morning. We learned so much. Again I have only shared a portion of what we learned. They covered all about the market, what wild caught means versus farm raised, quality, and the processing of the shrimp that takes place in Port Isabel, which is only about 10 miles away. We also learned that this summer they will be refurbishing 2 of the boats, including the one we were on. The price tag is over $120,000 each. So much information.