Record year for La. shrimp
Louisiana shrimp processors are having difficulty keeping up with the incredible landings of brown shrimp in certain estuaries over the past two weeks.
Thanks to a recent cold front that sent the shrimp inland — and the after-effects of Hurricane Isaac — shrimpers are experiencing record catches. “Hurricane Isaac pushed shrimp into the marshes and estuaries, where they fed and grew. A surprisingly stiff October cold front pushed them out into open water,” said Pete Gerica, president of the Lake Ponchartrain Fishermen Association.
“There has been 10,000 pounds caught at a time in one net in one marsh,” said Harlon Pearce, chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.
The record catches are being experienced around the fishing community of Delacroix. While shrimpers were catching plentiful supplies of 16/20s after the cold front last week, they are not catching smaller sizes — but still in record amounts.
“The shrimp processors had trouble keeping up with it: one processor had to stop buying,” Pearce said.
Louisiana seafood officials say the record catch is a good sign of the recovery of the state’s estuaries since the BP oil spill.
“This shrimp was way up inside our estuary. As long as we have a strong estuary, we have strong fisheries production,” Pearce said.
While Louisiana shrimpers are experiencing this temporary “anomaly” of high catches, this year’s overall state shrimp production will likely be in on par with last year, according to Pearce. “We are about the same with overall shrimp landings compared to 2011, but the value of the shrimp is tracking up around 5 percent,” Pearce said.
In 2011, landings of brown and white shrimp reached approximately 93 million pounds. By September of 2011, brown shrimp production had reached 38 million pounds and it is around 38 million pounds for January through September of 2012, according to Pearce.