PORT ISABEL — There was a sea of people and a wave of the aroma of shrimp drifting through the air.

The seaside community of Port Isabel yesterday hosted its annual Shrimp Cook-Off, a tradition begun 25 years ago to celebrate the shrimping industry and to highlight various seafood dishes from local restaurants.

Texas Shrimp Association Executive Director Andrea Hance hosted an educational booth at the cook-off in an effort to help prevent the shrimping industry from continuing to shrink.

According to Hance, the shrimping industry has shrunk by about 70 percent over the past 30 years.

Between Brownsville and Port Isabel, there are about 145 shrimp boats, whereas about 20 to 30 years ago there were about 400 shrimp boats.

Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce President Betty Wells said the event is a great opportunity to highlight the shrimping industry and the Port Isabel community as a whole.

As a live band performed a variety of classic tunes, hundreds of visitors walked around purchasing various shrimp dishes.

Port Isabel resident Karen Moore has lived in the city for 33 years and has visited every cook-off since it began.

“The food and music is always wonderful. I like to try shrimp from new booths, but I’ve probably tried almost every one,” Moore said laughing.

From amateur cooks to professional chefs, there was a combined total of 10 competitors.

Rich Products’ SeaPak Shrimp and Seafood Company has been participating in the cook-off for five years.

“We try to make new recipes each time we compete and brainstorm months in advance to come up with a creative idea for the cook-off,” said SeaPak Director of Procurement Terry Stachowiak. “It’s a really fun team activity for us.”

Every year, the company donates its competition profits to a local charity. For the second year in a row, proceeds will be given to Sunshine Haven Inc., a free hospice facility in Olmito.