Task force to investigate low shrimp prices

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
August 31, 2009

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Tuesday issued an executive order forming the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force to bolster the vitality of the state’s ailing shrimp industry.

Among the subjects the task force will address are the effect of the global economic downturn on the domestic shrimp industry, ways to strengthen demand for domestic shrimp, the impact of imported shrimp on the domestic shrimp industry, and health and food-safety concerns surrounding imported shrimp.

Louisiana fishermen are up in arms over historically low shrimp prices. Some shrimpers have been on strike for two weeks. About 500 shrimpers demonstrated at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge on 18 August and then again on 26 August to draw attention to their plight.

On Friday, Jindal met with about 20 shrimpers and industry representatives at the Governor’s Mansion to discuss the matter. Jindal said he would order state agencies, such as such as school cafeterias, government buildings and prisons, to buy Louisiana shrimp to help reduce the glut of domestic shrimp currently on the market, reported The Advocate.

Last week, Jindal sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Shara Aranoff, head of the U.S. International Trade Commission, requesting an investigation into possible violations of international trade law by foreign shrimp exporters. Shrimp imports from six countries — Thailand, Vietnam, China, India, Ecuador and Brazil — have been subject to U.S. antidumping tariffs since 2005.

Jindal has also asked Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to investigate allegations of price-fixing and mingling of imported shrimp with domestic product by local processors. John Sinquefield of the Attorney General’s Office told The Advocate on Tuesday that no decision has been made yet.

The Louisiana Shrimp Task Force falls under the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and will be chaired by the agency’s secretary. Task force members will include Jindal, Caldwell, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry commissioner, the Department of Health and Hospitals secretary, the Louisiana Recovery Authority executive director, the Department of Louisiana Economic Development secretary, and the Louisiana Workforce Commission executive director. Jindal may also designate additional members, particularly representatives of the shrimp industry.

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