"All Fishers Need To Come Together”
August 12, 2016
In Louisiana, fishers are getting organized. On Friday, August 12th, several hundred fishers gathered in Gretna, LA, mobilizing to raise historically low prices for shrimp and other seafood commodities in coastal Louisiana.
In recent years, fishers have seen consistent drops in prices for shrimp, finfish and crabs, while fuel, regulatory and business expenses have only increased. Many say that this season is their worst yet: no shrimp, and no prices.
But, says Acey Cooper, President of the Louisiana Shrimpers Association, fishers have been despairing for too long. Despite the sea of woes facing fishers in Louisiana, Cooper wants people to turn to action. That is why his organization, despite rain and floods, assembled the crowd. Between discussions of policy prescriptions, value added seafood business models, fishers owning processing facilities, everyone agreed that no one else was coming to the rescue. That’s why they are organizing the fishers.
"All fishermen need to come together now.” Cooper said. "We can’t work at 40 cent prices. If we can’t come together and get our prices up, we’re gonna lose this industry. Because a lot of the fishermen can’t take that price – they’ll get run out of business.”
The Louisiana Shrimper Association is making strides towards their goal of uniting the often fiercely independent fishing fleet of the Louisiana coast. The rally included a diverse set of fishers, coming from over five parishes and with Vietnamese, Cajun, African American and fishers with Isleño heritage present.
In a fight for their livelihoods, what many equate with their lives, fishers agreed with Cooper: it’s time for action. "I don’t know how we’re gonna do it,” Cooper said, "but Louisiana shrimpers can be tough. We’re not backing off.”