Memorial to St. Augustine Shrimpers & Boat Builders

At one time, 300 shrimp boats were ported on the San Sebastian River and over 2,000 men and women worked in the fishing industry.

On Saturday, May 1, 2021, a monument honoring St. Augustine’s shrimpers, boat builders, and marine artisans was dedicated with 250 descendants of shrimping and boat building families attending who were donors for the project.

Northeast Florida was the birthplace of the commercial shrimping industry and the San Sebastian River is considered its cradle. Shrimping fleets moved to St. Augustine in the early 1920s with predominately Italian, Greek, and Portuguese immigrants as its pioneers. Shrimp was sold in salted barrels for $3.85 per 100 pounds in the 1920s and the advent of manufactured ice from The Ice Plant (now a craft cocktail bar and restaurant) greatly expanded markets as demand grew.

Demand for shrimp boats spawned numerous boatyards on the San Sebastian and over 125 trawlers per year were produced at its peak. Diesel Engine Sales Company (DESCO) was located on the San Sebastian River and grew to be the largest builder of fishing boats in the world. This river was also home to over 20 “fish houses” which processed fresh shrimp for shipment to northern markets.

The monument is a bronze relief map on a coquina base depicting owners and operators on 16 sites: fish houses, seafood markets, boatyards, marine supply, marine repair, and ice plants (the first in Florida) from the 1920s to the 1970s.

The St. Augustine City Commission has enacte

View more

Medium type: Cast Bronze; Coquina

Date created: May 1, 2021


Contact information