By The Houma, La. Courier
The Picayune Item
HOUMA, La. —
The fall shrimp season has ended, and there are some familiar signs of good fortune and of challenges yet to be overcome.
On the good side of the balance sheet, there are some promising indications that the shrimp catch is up this year.
That is certainly welcome news among shrimpers who have been hard-pressed to do better in recent years.
Between hurricanes, an oil spill, increased competition, higher costs and lower prices and even illegal trade practices from shrimp-exporting nations, there hasn’t been much good news coming from this vital industry.
A few years of good catches, though, could go a long way toward making up for past difficulties.
Unfortunately, even the good news of a large catch has to be tempered with some discouraging signs that problems from the 2010 BP oil spill are still lingering.
Shrimpers have said the delicious shellfish remains scarce in some of their former hunting grounds — an impact, they fear, of the oil spill.
Another impact that persists is the reduced demand for shrimp outside of Louisiana.
When people across the nation are reluctant to purchase your product — whether that reluctance is based on accurate information or not — it creates a difficult set of circumstances.
The oil spill altered many people’s view of the Gulf of Mexico.
While the people here know that the waters are clean and the seafood is once again safe and delicious, that message has not yet taken hold elsewhere.
That persistent belief that the seafood is tainted with pollution is difficult to overcome.
Shrimpers can produce clean, safe, tasty seafood.
But until the people who would buy it in, say, New York or Iowa have tasted it and know it is still good, those beliefs could remain.
Louisiana has done a lot to get the message out that our seafood is back to its former state, but it has not yet gained enough traction to restore the market for our shrimp.
Shrimpers, as well as the seafood dealers who both depend on them and get their product to market, must continue to tell themselves that there are better times ahead. If only they can weather the current storm, they should come out of it in better shape than ever.
Here’s hoping that happens sooner rather than later.