La. shrimpers struggle to make ends meet after prices plummet

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 6:54 PM CDT
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Cameron Parish, LA (KPLC) - Shrimpers in Louisiana have been struggling to make ends meet the last few months. Some say after calculating the cost of fuel to harvest shrimp and what they’re getting per pound, it’s simply not worth it.

“We’re just steady shrimping for nothing,” Cameron Parish shrimper Anthony Theriot said.

Theriot says the return on investment is making him reconsider leaving the dock each day.

“It’s about $450 a day, with the price of fuel right now that’s 100 gallons of fuel with a little bit of snacks to eat, you go out, you catch 1,000 pounds of shrimp, 1,000 pounds of 50/60′s right now, you’re looking at $650 at 65 cents a pound, at $650, it costs $450 to go catch them, you have crew members looking at you wanting to make money so by the time you divide it all up, you have nothing there,” he said.

Kevin Savoie, a sea grant agent with the LSU AG Center, explains where part of this problem comes from.

“We’re importing huge volumes of shrimp into the U.S., and they come from countries like Ecuador, Indonesia, and they come in at a reduced price. They got low overhead in producing their products, they have cheap labor, it gets here, and it’s piled into our market at huge volumes. So, it drives the price down and it brings the price of domestic product down with it,” Savoie said.

During the onset of COVID shrimping in Louisiana took a hit, causing retailers to go elsewhere for product. But now there’s an overflow, and no one to sell to, unless it’s at plummeting prices.

“The state of Louisiana caught shrimp this year, but I mean whether it’s imports, whether its price gauging, show us why it’s set at that price, you can find that answer. But I know if you go to Walmart to try to buy a shrimp, go to Ross’s to try to buy a shrimp the price difference is crazy,” Savoie said

Savoie said there may be one silver lining for shrimpers: “They’re selling these products themselves, they’re having to bypass the docks and wholesalers.”

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