Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) Executive Director John Williams is calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to address a deteriorating economic situation impacting shrimp fishers in the Gulf of Mexico.

On 27 June, 2022, Williams sent a letter to Biden relaying the economic situation commercial operators are facing. One major concern addressed in the letter is the increasing cost of diesel fuel – at its current price, it can force shrimp boat operators to spend up to USD 100,000 (EUR 95,701) to fill their 20,000-gallon vessels' tanks.

Williams added a tax holiday would not help shrimpers since they do not pay federal or state excise taxes on purchased diesel.

At the same time, Williams told Biden that the U.S. is importing a surplus of shrimp from countries such as Ecuador, India, and Indonesia, which have sent more product to the U.S. after they’ve encountered challenges in exporting their shrimp to Europe and China.

Williams said it is possible the U.S. will import more than two billion pounds of shrimp in 2022. Compound that with inflation rates that have hit a 40-year high, and he said some SSA members are concerned they may go out of business this year.

“This entire industry is in dire straits,” Williams wrote. “As plainly as I can put it, we need help.”

Williams is asking the federal government to buy wild-caught shrimp caught by American fishermen. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture bought USD 25 million (EUR 24 million) in wild shrimp from U.S. producers.

Williams' letter came 10 days after U.S. Reps. Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) and Jerry Carl (R-Alabama) made similar requests to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Villsack.

Williams also asked Biden to more strictly enforce the country’s trade laws – which he said help soften the impact imports have on U.S. producers.

“We hope that you will keep the commercial fishing industry in mind as your administration considers options to provide relief for businesses throughout the country,” Williams said.

This story first appeared on SeafoodSource.com and is republished here with permission.

Steve Bittenbender works as a freelance journalist based in Louisville, Kentucky. Besides working for SeafoodSource.com as a contributing editor, Steve also works as an editor for Government Security News and as the Kentucky correspondent for the Reuters News Service.

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