Shrimpers pressured by import prices, seek legislative change
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Local shrimpers said they are struggling to stay in business as prices keep dropping.
Charles Robin the third comes from a long line of commercial shrimpers.
"I'm actually sixth generations doing this business. He's eight. I mean I'm seven, he's eight. And I don't see it. I don't see him finishing it. I hope I'm wrong. The prices they have today, it's not going to happen," Robin said.
Robin said the shrimping community is struggling to stay afloat.
"The way it is right now you gotta catch a boatload of shrimp every trip. If you don't, you don't even pay the bills. That's all we're doing is staying above water," Robin said.
Local fisherman say import prices are forcing them to lower prices.
"You can't compete in a market where 17 cents an hour for factory workers. You just can't compete. And why our government will not protect us, give us at least a bottom base line to operate on, I don't know," commercial fishermen advocate George Barisich said.
On top of competing with import prices, shrimpers are also forking out money to upkeep their boats.
"You got to save money to get these boats and keep them operating. it costs, the expenses are very high," Robin said.
St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis is doing what he can to help.
"The shrimp prices affect St. Bernard in a large way, so we're always cognizant of the fact that our local fishermen are protected from the imports," McInnis said.
That is why the parish is hosting its first seafood market Saturday.
"Our commercial fishing industry and the shrimping industry is one of the largest economic impacts to our parish. I know that now more than ever. So we're here to do the seafood market in St. Bernard Parish to make sure that our docks and our fishermen are protected," McInnis said.
If the industry keeps at this downward trend, Robin believes everyone else will be affected.
"Everybody revolves around the fisherman. But now, everybody hurts. Not just us. It's a domino effect," Robin said.
Robin is holding onto hope, but says there needs to be legislative change. Otherwise, his son will be the last shrimper in the family.
"It's hard. It's a rough business you know. And if we can't get no help with this, it's just going to fall out. This whole industry is just going to go to hell," Robin said.
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