MCCLELLANVILLE, S.C. -- The world seemed especially dark, with only a few stars and a sliver of a moon, as the Village Lady trawler plied down Jeremy Creek, riding with the tide and a captain's faith that the shrimping industry can survive.
David Donnelly needed no lights to guide him out the narrow creek, across the Intracoastal Waterway, into wider Five Fathom Creek and to the ocean. He skirted the shallows, following the curve of the marsh, hand steady on the wheel.
Donnelly, 38, loves these waters, and it was that love which steered him away from college 18 years ago and onto a shrimp trawler. It keeps him readying his nets most mornings by 5, and dragging them for 14 hours a day.
Hundreds of other shrimpers have given up.
Not long after Donnelly bought the Village Lady in 1996, inexpensive pond-raised shrimp from Asia and South America flooded the market. That drove down the price per pound and drove many local shrimpers out of business. More than 85 percent of shrimp now sold in the U.S. is imported. The rising cost of diesel fuel this season has kept even more shrimpers off the water.
As many as 60 trawlers once put out from this fishing village 40 miles north of Charleston. Fewer than a dozen boats are now tied up at the dock and often only a handful take a chance out in the ocean, gambling that they'll catch enough shrimp to offset costs.
Read the complete story at CharlotteObserver.com