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Some Mississippi Shrimpers Parking Boats Due to High Cost of Fuel, Low Price of Shrimp

By Rhonda Miller | Published 24 Jun 2011 12:39am | comments
At Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, Tammy Vu has a stready line of buyers for her jumbo shrimp

Shrimp prices are down and the cost of fuel is up. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports some Mississippi shrimpers can hardly cover expenses, so they’re parking their boats.

At the dock in Pass Christian harbor, Joe Seal is on his boat, clearing off the deck and storing ice chests down below.  He’s been shrimping for 25 years and says this year is a tough one.

"The price is just real low. They say lot of people aren’t wanting Gulf  shrimp because of the BP oil spill," says Seal. "There’s still plenty of people scared to eat them. And it’s caused our price to almost cut in half of what it was before the spill."

Seal says it costs him $400 a day to run this boat. For now, he says it’s just not worth going out.

"I’m taking off for a couple of weeks and hoping by the time I get back the price will come up or the shrimp will get bigger or something, so we can  get a little more money for them," Seal says.

Mississippi shrimpers complain that imported shrimp is ruining the market for Gulf shrimp. David Veal is executive director  of the American Shrimp Processors Association,  based in Biloxi.

"There are a lot of imports, but that’s only part of the problem," Veal says. "There are a whole bunch of things. The other thing that’s happening now is processors have a lot of money tied up in the BP claims process, so they have substantially less available cash for buying product."

And while low shrimp prices are causing some shrimpers to park their boats for while, shrimp is a good deal for consumers like Biloxi resident Randy Rowan. He’s buying several pounds of shrimp off the boat at the dock in Biloxi.

"We’ve been paying anywhere from $4.50 to $5 a pound for jumbos," Rowan says. "A couple years ago we were paying six or seven for jumbo and probably $4.50 for medium. The price is very low, very reasonable."

Lots of shrimpers are coming in with good catches. They’re just wondering if  the cost of fuel and ice and shrimp will eventually balance out, so they can afford to run their boats and support their families.

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At Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, Tammy Vu has a stready line of buyers for her jumbo shrimp


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