LA Shrimp Season Starts Well, But Prices Down

HOUMA (AP) — This year's spring shrimp season has begun and fishermen say their first hauls are full of large white shrimp and average brown shrimp. But fishermen say the abundance of imported shrimp continues to hurt them.

         The Courier’s Emma Discher reports that fishermen say imported shrimp is hurting the price they fetch at docks.

         Shrimp season opened on Monday.

         Commercial fisherman Phillip Silver, who lives near Dulac, says large shrimp are selling for $1.50 a pound at the dock near him. In the 1990s, by comparison, he says large shrimp sold between $4 and $4.50 a pound.

         There are typically about three crops a season depending on how long the season lasts. The opening and length of a season depends on research and sampled by LDWF biologists.

         Fishermen complained about the price they get for shrimp. About 93 percent of shrimp sold in the United States is imported.

         Parish Williams, who owns the boat Chackbay Lady, said the drop in shrimp prices makes it difficult for him to turn a profit. Every trip costs him $2,500 to $3,000 just to leave the dock after buying groceries, ice and fuel. That doesn't even factor in the pay for his crew.

         "You got to get at least $2 a pound to pay your expenses," Williams said. He said he gets 90 cents a pound at the shrimp docks near him in Golden Meadow.

         Williams has decided to sell his own shrimp out of his boat rather than making 90 cents a pound at the sheds, he said. He sells his shrimp for $2 a pound from his boat.

         "We doing it real good selling shrimp right here," he said. "But it takes time."

         He weighed the advantages and disadvantages of selling from the boat: "We lose time doing it. We can't be out. But I'm making more money doing this."

         Scott and Nickie Esponge of Galliano also said they "cut out the middle man" by selling to family and friends. The cousins went out on their boat Lil-Kai on Monday and brought in about 1,000 pounds of shrimp.

         "The price of fuel was 15 cents back then (in the 1980s) and (small) shrimp was 45 cents," Scott Esponge said. "Now diesel is $1 something a gallon and shrimp is 50 cents. One went up, the other one stayed the same."

         "Import shrimp is a lot of what drives global price," said Lance Nacio. He said he went to a grocery store recently and found one type of local shrimp was local out of the nine varieties.

         There are 5,500 licensed shrimpers in Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

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