Prices, not supplies, dog Gulf shrimp fishery
By April Forristall, SeafoodSource assistant editor
31 July, 2009 -
Supply has not been a problem for U.S. Gulf of Mexico shrimp harvesters this year, but prices are hitting new lows.
Said one Louisiana supplier, "Our processors have enough shrimp to supply more than what they need. This has been a bumper year, somewhat like Katrina, when we has a lot of shrimp come in. We've been blessed with a good season."
However, the supplier added, it's "a crying shame what fishermen are getting for the shrimp. They're junk prices."
In mid-July, for head-on Gulf shrimp, processors were paying the same amount, about USD 1.40 (EUR 0.99) a pound, for both 10-15s and 21-25s. The supplier says only 2002 was worse, when the market was flooded with shrimp imports.
The Gulf brown shrimp fishery will be slightly below average this season, with prices being forced to record lows.
In May, Louisiana officials said that brown shrimp landings over the past four years have declined significantly, while white shrimp landings have risen, primarily due to economics (white shrimp command a better price).
"This year conditions are less than ideal but not detrimental," explained the official. "River stages are low compared to last year, and water temps are good."
The National Marine Fisheries Service has predicted a brown shrimp catch of 56.9 million pounds from July through next June, up from the 49.2 million pound total from the season that just ended. Texas is predicting a harvest of 24.7 million pounds, up from last year's 18.3 million pounds. Louisiana could see a brown shrimp harvest of 29.2 million pounds, up from last year's 20.9 million pound catch.
According to NMFS, total Gulf shrimp landings in May fell just shy of 16.3 million pounds, up from 10.5 million pounds in May 2008.
In July, Gulf shrimpers were getting USD 4.45 (EUR 3.15) a pound for 16-20s, USD 4.40 (EUR 3.11) for 21-25s, USD 4.30 (EUR 3.04) for 26-30s and USD 3.75 (EUR 2.65) for 31-35s, all down from a year ago.
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