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August 15, 2015

United States

Louisiana—Shrimp Fishermen Complain about Farmed Shrimp

 

On August 12, 2015, dozens of Louisiana shrimpers—ranging from Vietnamese-Americans to Cajuns—rallied in downtown New Orleans to complain about low prices, farm-raised imports and other shrimp fishing problems.  More than 90 percent of the shrimp consumed in the United States is imported.

 

 

The shrimpers say they’re struggling against a flood of cheap farm-raised imported shrimp, market uncertainties, hurricanes, the lingering effects of the massive BP oil spill and high fuel prices.

 

“If it stays this way you will see at least half of this industry go down,” said Ashton DeHart, a 38-year-old fisherman from Bayou Dularge, a fishing community far out in the marsh, about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans.  “If they gave us an honest price, you’d never hear from the fishermen,” he said.

 

Tai Nguyen, a 46-year-old Vietnamese-American fisherman who runs a boat with his wife, said fishermen receive about $1.30 a pound at the dock, but it sells for $7 in supermarkets.  “Something’s wrong,” he said.

 

Shrimpers say they’re facing a dramatic price drop this year.  They say on average shrimp has dropped from about $4.70 a pound at the dock last year to $1.30 a pound this year.

 

Dressed in T-shirts reading, “Domestic Shrimpers Need Fair Prices For Quality Organic Shrimp,” the shrimpers chanted: “Demand Gulf Shrimp!”  [Shrimp News: Basically, the fishermen cannot call their product “organic” because legally the term “organic” only applies to farmed products!]

 

During the meeting, shrimpers held up signs reading: “Ask Where Your Shrimp Come From” and “Foreign Shrimp Equals Unemployed Americans.”

 

Roy Crabtree, regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said he understood their complaints.  But he said the Gulf Fishery Council and the Federal Government have limited power to help the fishermen with their economic troubles.  “The issues they have are economic ones, largely driven by shrimp prices and fuel prices,” Crabtree said.  “Shrimp are largely a global market now and prices are affected by that.”

 

Increasingly Gulf shrimpers have sought to highlight the differences in quality between the shrimp they catch—wild, fresh shrimp—and the farm-raised, poor quality shrimp from South America and Asia.  [Shrimp News:They are just flat out wrong on the quality issue.  Some of the highest quality shrimp in the world comes from shrimp farms in Asia and Latin America!].

 

Source: Sun Herald.  Shrimpers Decry Low Prices, Damage Caused by Shrimp Imports.  Cain Burdeau.  August 12, 2015.

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