We talk about courtesy and etiquette when out on the water shrimping but one subject routinely goes unspoken. It isn't out of ignorance or our of a lack of concern but we here at Ozello Shrimpers take the issue very seriously and we want to make a point of mentioning it here today so that it stays in the front of your mind the next time you are out on the water.
How many times have you been walking along the grass flats and spotted a submerged beer or soda can in the water? How many times have you spotted a plastic bag from the local convenience store that has become entangled in the mangroves? Bait boxes? Monofilament fishing line? What about bottles, trash or even worse, hazardous waste? Sure, some of these things are rare but I can tell you from personal experience that all of them exist out on the water. Careless fishermen, boaters, car drivers or litterers dump large amounts of trash into our environment regularly and it has truly adverse effects.
What can you do about it? Well, you certainly can't stop other people from littering but you can control your own behavior and do your part in helping maintain the cleanliness of our local environment. We all don't have time to go out and do a coastal cleanup but, we do have one thing under our control. We have the choice of leaving that trash out there or picking it up.
The next time you see a beer can in the water, pick it up, crush it into a small ball and throw it into your shrimp bucket. You may find 4 or 5 in a night but they barely make a dent in the space you have available. Bring it back to shore and place it in a public trash can, or better yet, recycle it. See some trash along the shoreline? Pick up the bottles, the bags, the debris and throw it away. It is a lot better than letting it blow out to sea where it could pose more of a risk or allowing someone to slice their feet open on a broken piece of glass.
If you are one of those people who toss your beer cans, bottles and trash into the water while you are out shrimping, think about what you are doing and take the time to stow it away so that you can return it to shore. You aren't any cooler because you litter and your "I don't care" attitude of complacency is doing more harm to your image and the environment than you realize.
Pack it in, pack it out.