Louisiana shrimpers persevere

This year has brought flood control measures that could push shrimp into saltier waters and out of reach of inshore vessels, and a lawsuit that environmentalists have filed asserting that NOAA, by allowing shrimping to occur in the wake of the spill, isn’t properly protecting sea turtles.

But frustrated shrimpers aren’t taking things lying down. The Louisiana Shrimp Association got shrimpers together Thursday evening for a meeting at the Belle Chasse Auditorium in Plaquemines Parish. Fishermen aired a number of complaints, most stemming from the BP spill.

Shrimpers say they’re catching plenty of good quality shrimp, but dock prices are way down. The BP spill has soured demand for Gulf of Mexico seafood nationally. Cheap imported shrimp — long a bane to gulf shrimpers — is filling the resulting void.

Shrimpers say processors are paying them only 25 to 40 cents a pound for their catch. That pales in comparison to the estimated $1.10 a pound shrimpers were earning before the spill.

Fortunately, shrimpers are conducting their business in far more civilized fashion than hockey fans in Vancouver, British Columbia did this week. The Boston Bruins victory over the Vancouver Canucks for the National Hockey League championship Wednesday night triggered rioting in the streets.

But shrimpers managed to vent Thursday without tipping over police cars and setting them on fire or looting stores. Instead, shrimpers plan to gather at the state capitol in Baton Rouge on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. to state their case.

John DeSantis, senior writer for The Courier, a Houma, La., daily newspaper, profiles Louisiana’s shrimp fishery in the August issue of National Fisherman coming out at the end of this month. John’s report on the spring fishery and its resilient harvesters makes interesting reading.

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