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Lawmakers taking action to protect state's seafood industry

3 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Monday, June 05 2023 Jun 5, 2023 June 05, 2023 10:32 PM June 05, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Fishermen in Louisiana are suffering from imports and they're worried about the future of the seafood industry in the state.

It's why lawmakers are putting tougher restrictions on imports to help struggling shrimpers.

Fishermen say they are at risk of losing their livelihoods due to inflation and the abundance of imported seafood. It's why shrimpers stood on the capitol steps urging lawmakers to do something.

Louisiana Shrimp Association President Acy Cooper has been a fisherman in Louisiana for 45 years. He said he hopes he is able to keep it alive so that his grandkids can carry on the legacy.

"You know everything in this country is going up and shrimp are steady going down. We're getting less now than we did in the '80s. There's no way we can compete on the market with shrimp that's being dumped in the U.S. at a lower price. It just undermines everything that we've been trying to accomplish," Cooper said.

Lawmakers know the threat of imported shrimp to the state's economy, Representative Timothy Kerner has proposed several bills to protect the industry -- like placing tariffs, taxes and penalties on imported shrimp.

"There's too many foreign imports, the freezers are full. It's the first time in my life I've seen fishermen not able to get rid of their shrimp during lent," Kerner said. 

If imported shrimp is so cheap, then what's the catch? Most restaurants choose to serve the cheapest option available, but Cooper says imported seafood can contain toxins and antibiotics that can make you sick.

"Every citizen in this state needs to know what they're eating, have the choice of eating imported shrimp or our shrimp. If it's on the menu like it's supposed to be but the LDH hasn't been doing their job, we've been asking them for three years now to step up the inspections and they haven't been doing it," Cooper said. 

Fishermen say it puts the lives of thousands of people and the entire industry at risk.

"Whether it's tariffs or quotas or all of the above, the USDA buying shrimp directly from the commercial fisherman, more testing, it's all these things if you do just a couple you're going to help the industry but if you do all you'll save it," Kerner said. 

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