Shrimpers plan to tie up boats over dropping prices

Shrimpers meet over falling prices (FOX 8 photo)
Shrimpers meet over falling prices (FOX 8 photo)

BELLE CHASSE, LA (WVUE) - Furious over slipping shrimp prices, hundreds of fishermen packed into the Belle Chasse Auditorium on Friday.

Some, like Nathan Cheramie, drove from the Grand Isle area to attend Friday's meeting.

"We want to make money. We want to support our family, have a better life than what we have right now," said Cheramie. "Because right now, you can say it's just about nothing."

The Louisiana Shrimp Association called the meeting after the price per pound dropped almost $2 in the last few weeks. Right now, fishermen can get around $1.80 per pound for smaller shrimp from processors. The Louisiana Shrimp Association says shrimpers were getting almost $3 for the same catch at the start of the season.

"That's $1,400 every thousand pounds I catch," said Acy Cooper, the LSA vice-president. "That's too much, too quick. The market doesn't reflect the downfall."

But processors say there's a surplus of shrimp, and today's catch isn't worth as much when their freezers are already full. Imported goods from overseas don't help, either. It's pushing shrimpers to their breaking points.

"I say we strike now," said Earl Ronquillo, a shrimper from Venice.

Members have agreed starting Monday to keep their boats tied up for a week. The Louisiana Shrimp Association isn't calling it a strike, but a message to processors and the government.

"I think it's good for everybody to stop and let the processors empty their freezers," said Ronquillo. "It means doing what we have to do to show the processors we're not playing around. They're not the only ones who need to make money, to support their families."

To other fishermen, the break is a call to action and a call to protect their way of life.

"It can be big dollars for us. That's the money we take to put up in the winter time," said Cooper. "we're getting paid 1980 prices for 2014."

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