It’s the end of an era. The final shrimp boat that washed ashore onto dry land during Hurricane Ian is back in the water and sailing again. The shrimping industry is still trying its best to stay afloat.
Shrimpers will fish for many things, but they will never fish for excuses. It’s been a tough road for them, and while the shrimp boat “Rip Tide” is back in the water, its time on dry land represented a devastating dry spell for this industry. One that they don’t know if they’ll ever be able to come back from.
“It breaks my heart. But we can bring it back,” said Christine Gala, owner of Trico Seafood Market. “They did a beautiful job.”
This is an industry picking itself back up and dusting itself off.
“We had a retail market. And we had maintenance shops. Well, those buildings are gone,” Gala said.
Gala has owned Trico Seafood Market for 45 years. It has been where shrimpers dock their boats and create a home for themselves.
This week marked a huge milestone in the recovery efforts since Hurricane Ian. “Rip Tide,” the last shrimp boat still washed up on dry land, was lifted, and put back in the water.
Michael Hudak: “When you look at rip tide, what does that symbolize in the process? Where are we?”
Gala: “We’re at the beginning again. We’re going to have to start from scratch. But we can do it. We’ll do it.”
Gala believes that Rip Tide’s recovery doesn’t mean the bandaid is ripped off, but if Hurricane Ian set them ten steps back, this symbolizes ten steps forward and shrimping in Southwest Florida breaking even.
“These three boats, their sister ship, went to Alabama because there’s no place to tie him up here. That’s revenue that this island is losing,” said Gala.
The people WINK News spoke to said millions of dollars in revenue have been lost over the last six months.
Is it a setback that they can come back from?
“It’ll never be the same, you know. I don’t know. We’ll all have to wait and see,” said Shrimper Chaplin Donna De Sutter.
To the shrimpers, they’re nowhere near the tail end of the recovery. They’re still trying their best to take care of themselves.