Shrimpers in Louisiana struggling to survive off low prices

Published: May. 19, 2023 at 7:02 PM CDT
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Hackberry, LA (KPLC) - Last week, shrimpers from across Louisiana held a rally at the State Capitol, blaming foreign imports for overcrowding the market.

“You’re not breaking even right now, you’re in the red. Matter of fact, you’re below the red. I just don’t know what else to do,” Hackberry shrimper Kenny Kellum said.

Kellum has fished for shrimp since he was 8 years old, but the return on investment makes him wonder if he should leave it all behind.

“We don’t want to give it up but we’re being forced out of something we’ve been doing all our lives and there’s no reason why somebody else should come in here and put us out of our living,” Kellum said.

The abundance of foreign imported shrimp has caused prices to plummet in Louisiana, making it nearly impossible for shrimpers to survive.

“Heck, to put 200 gallons of fuel, five, six, seven boxes of ice and salt on the boat, you’re looking at almost $1,000 right there in expenses. How’re you going to pay that with 10 boxes of shrimp at 250 bucks? We’re working for very little or none at all right now,” Kellum said.

He said something needs to change, and he believes shrimpers are not being treated fairly.

“Prices in the stores are all still the same. You go anywhere else they’re still the same. It’s just the fishermen, we’re just not getting our price, and without us there is no shrimp,” Kellum said.

Louisiana plays a massive role in providing shrimp to consumers in the United States.

“Louisiana doesn’t need shrimp from foreign countries point blank. We got all the shrimp we need right here, and it’s just a crying shame that what we’re doing is coming to an end if we don’t get help,” Kellum said.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Bayou State is the nation’s top shrimp producer.