Louisiana Shrimpers Face Lower Prices This Year

DELCAMBRE, LA (AP) — Louisiana State University researchers say Louisiana shrimpers face lower prices this year with an expected rise in imported shrimp.

         The Daily World’s Jessica Goff reports that imports last year were hit by a virus called Early Mortality Syndrome, or EMS. But this year imports are re-entering the market and that is expected to drive prices down.

         Julie Anderson-Lively, assistant professor at Louisiana State University's AgCenter, said a lot of imports were killed off last year and never entered the market.

         But she said this year the virus is not nearly such issue and imports are starting to re-enter the market.

         She was one of several speakers at a shrimp industry workshop that took place this week in Delcambre.

         The spring brown shrimp season has not been opened as wildlife officials assess population stocks.

         Along with the competition from foreign shrimp, U.S. fishermen are also seeing an increase in melanosis, commonly known as "blackspot."

         Blackspot is not a sign of unhealthy shrimp and it will not impact consumers, but it doesn't look very savory, Mark Shirley, LSUAgCenter aquaculture and coastal resources specialist said.

         Sulfites are commonly used to treat and remove blackspot from shrimp, but treated shrimp can be harder to market.

         Federal regulations require that food containing sulfites be labeled and some wholesale buyers are skittish about buying sulfite-treated seafood.

         "Blackspot is just a discoloration. It's oxidizing with the air and the enzymes cause the shell to darken," Lively-Anderson said. "It's completely safe to humans. It's not indicative of spoilage or anything like that, but it just doesn't look appetizing. But even though sulfite is not considered a major allergen in the U.S., anything with sulfites has to be labeled as such."

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