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La. shrimpers call for strike over low prices

La. shrimpers call for strike over low prices

BELLE CHASSE, La. (AP) — Some Louisiana shrimpers say they're going on strike over low prices.

Meeting Friday in Belle Chasse, members of the Louisiana Shrimp Association discussed a drop in prices paid by processors for their catch in recent weeks.

"Opening day of the May season we got $2.70 for 40-50s," shrimper Warren Delacroix of New Orleans told WWL-TV, discussing one common size of shrimp. "Right now they are $1.35 at some of the docks."

Association leaders said shrimpers will tie up their boats for a week or longer to allow the association to negotiate with processors.

President Clint Guidry told The Associated Press Saturday that the work stoppage is timed because catches generally peak in the fall and shrimpers fear prices will fall even further.

"What's going to happen a month from now when we start bringing in a whole lot of shrimp?" he asked.

Guidry hopes by then shrimpers and processors can reach an agreement.

"We need to sit down and decide how we can all make money," he said.

David Veal of the American Shrimp Processors Association said processors aren't to blame and says prices are falling because imports are rebounding. Disease has been killing many Asian farm-raised shrimp, raising prices for what American shrimpers catch. But Veal said those problems are abating and prices are falling.

"The problems that foreign producers have been having with disease are being solved very quickly and foreign shrimp are flooding into the country again," Veal said Saturday.

Shrimpers, though, say the wholesale market price has been relatively level, pointing the finger at local processors.

"On the New York market the price hasn't fallen but a nickel or ten cents, but it has fallen for us at the shrimp docks like $1.60 a pound," said shrimper Earl Ronquillo of Buras. "Oh it kills you."

Guidry doesn't call what shrimpers are doing a strike, saying they are independent business people and can decide whether they want to work or not. But it's meant to get processors' attention.

"I think it's good for everybody to stop and let the processors empty their freezers," Ronquillo said. "It means doing what we have to do to show the processors we're not playing around. They're not the only ones who need to make money, to support their families."

Veal, though, said a strike will hurt shrimpers and processors, but is unlikely to move prices because Gulf-caught shrimp are a small minority of the shrimp Americans eat.

"It'll matter to those boats," he said. "It'll matter to those processors. But will it matter to the market? No one will miss it."

 

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