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The State of Shrimping in the Gulf, From the Mouth of a Gulf Shrimper

I spoke with George Barisich, a third generation shrimper, earlier this week about the his first shrimping trip since the moratorium on fishing that was imposed in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill was lifted. Barisich, president of the United Commercial Fisherman’s Association, says times are still tough for Gulf shrimpers.

He spent four-days on the water last week and caught about 3,600 pounds of shrimp. For comparison, he says usually catches about that amount in the first day or two of a four-day trip at the beginning of the season.

On top of that, he says, the cost of shrimp has plummeted in the Gulf because of a lack of demand. “The problem is, we don’t have buyers who want to buy the shrimp. I had to go to Biloxi to unload what I have. That’s eight hours away,” he says.

Given the few shrimpers on the water last week (by his count, 11 boats on Lake Borgne in Eastern Saint Bernard Parish, Louisiana), Barisich says he should have caught a lot more shrimp. “There’s no money to be made. Just like I told them there would be, there are areas of production, but they are small,” he says.

As we were talking, Barisich was getting ready for another shrimping trip. He says he’s taking the trips to see for himself what the state of Gulf is. “You can talk shit, get economists in there. But you’ve got to make the trip to see where the money does or does not lie,” he says.

“Nobody is compensating you for that yet. There’s been remarks made that the fisherman don’t want to go to work. They want to hang tight and sit on the couch and do nothing. I went out there to see for myself.”

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