White Shrimp Season Not Too Shrimpy

I wish I could report something positive to you, because I hate being the continual bearer of bad news.

But bad news is upon us, and the BP oil spill is most likely to blame.

In a recent story about the decline of the way of life in these south Louisiana wetlands, I mentioned the white shrimp season, which started in August.  It’s been full swing now for over a month, and the verdict is out:

The white shrimp season is off.  Way off.

I thought it might just be locally, but according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, the harvest is off by as much as 80% in other coastal areas.  Grand Isle shrimp dock owner, Dean Blanchard, claims that less than one percent of what is usually caught around the island has been caught this season so far.

The oil spill, which happened April 20, 2010, is being blamed.  That is because all marine life that either ingests or absorbs the harmful agents in oil are affected to one degree or another.

Federal and state fisheries’ departments and a few non-profits have been studying samples of marine life for signs of these negative impacts.  They recently discovered that the cocahoe minnow, that we use for fishing bait, have shown signs of developmental problems with only trace amounts of oil-related chemicals present in their systems.

This cannot be ignored, because what happens down at the bottom of the food chain eventually makes its way up the chain. Right?

When I was interviewed about the oil spill, my concern was about the larval fish, crabs, and shrimp and how they would survive not only the onslaught of the petrochemicals, but also the volumes of dispersant to which they were exposed.  The adult fish could swim away, but younger fishes and less-mobile shrimp and crabs could not escape to cleaner waters.

Even then I said it was a “wait and see” prospect.  Now, some seventeen months later, we are definitely seeing but certainly not wanting to believe.  This decline in the white shrimp population is also affecting the seafood markets across the state.  Some processors have not even peeled their first white shrimp yet this season.  Others have let half their employees go.

And the door is now wide open for more Asian imports of shrimp to replace the lagging local wild catch.  Replace them where?  In big restaurants that boast “shrimp fests” or “endless shrimp”, etc.  Did you ever think to ask where they get their shrimp?  Yes, I realize that if these large chains advertise a shrimp fest and local shrimp aren’t available, then they must buy foreign.  But I suggest to you that national restaurant chains have been serving you foreign shrimp grown in sewage since their inception.  It’s just that now, they are just justified in doing so.  That’s all I’m saying, but you won’t catch me ordering shrimp at any of them.

The rest of this sob story is that so many of our shrimpers were suffering so badly after the oil spill that they settled for final payouts of $25,000 just so they could feed their families and possibly keep their homes and boats.  It was a dire situation, and I submit to you that this recent blow dealt to commercial fishermen by the oil spill will be the final blow for many, if not most, of them.

What they didn’t lose while waiting to be compensated when they could not shrimp in 2010, will be lost now because the adult shrimp just aren’t there.  Is this the whole story?  Are there adult white shrimp out in the deep waters of the Gulf, beyond the three-mile inland mark?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I haven’t done the homework.

However, as always, I am open to any of your findings and welcome an exchange on this oh-so-heavy topic that is weighing me down today.

Down to my last pack of shrimp from the May season,


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    1. UG.. very sad to hear….But I still support Gulf shrimping, will not buy any other! Will do without….

  1. Just love the way you write about what’s so important to us in the
    bayou country. Most people don’t know about the affects of the oil on the cocahoes and shrimp. Thanks for filling us in.

  2. I was so happy, for once I mistakenly had done well and accidently doubled, nay tripled the shrimp I normally try to keep in the freezer. I had really filled my freezer with shrimp before the oil spill. I normally get one or two of the 48 qt Igloos a year and maybe one of brownies if the whites didn’t run well.

    Most folks don’t know that fish or shrimp which if completely covered in ice will never get old. I didn’t know either till when we found some of the old milk cartons we used long ago to freeze shrimp in (before ziplocks). These had either shrimp, crawfish, or fish in them. They were over 20 years old and proved to be as fresh as the day they were frozen. Its freezer burn that ruins frozen food which has been packaged in water.

    Oh yeah shrimpers, did I happen to mention the electrical outlet my freezer plugs into grounded out and died? A perfectly good freezer with no electricity is still no better than a cardboard box. Someone should make a lose of power, or freezer ain’t working alarm that has a loud claxton or horn or flashing lights or whistles! The power of smell is the wrong way to to find out.

    I can relate with the diminished quantity and quality of our seafood.

    The sad part of the story is the fishermen, even compensated, sold loads of seafood to family and friends which wasn’t recorded. How many times have you traded cold beer or soda pop offshore to the trawlers for a bit of their catch?

  3. I could tell the shrimp were off too , for all that I only castnet. Where it was taking me an hour or 2 for a limit( 25lbs) this year it was taking 3-4 and then many times I went home after, 4 hours with 10 lb or so. The commercial shrimpers gotta be hurtin if lil ole me is doing so poorley. I did catch a few limits ant the shrimp were nice but nothing like normal quantities. those guys just keep gettin’ whacked!

  4. NOT GOOD NEWS AT ALL! I too read the newspaper article. I won’t even repeat what I said when I read it, you’d have to delete it. I’m going to try to find out from some shrimpers I know how their catch has been. They shrimp the deeper waters.
    I’m glad I still have some brown shrimp in the freezer. I’ll probably have to stretch my supply by making dishes that don’t require as many in the recipe. Did you know I can see into the future? Yep, I see us eating a lot more Turkey or Chicken than shrimp gumbo this year if it doesn’t get better. I WON’T buy the Chinese shrimp or crawfish! I DO have principles as well as taste buds.

    1. I thought it pretty dang sneaky they would call Chinese crawfish by the brand name “Boudreaux’s” and say they are wild crawfish packaged in Westwego. In the very small print it says a Product of China.

      I agree the quality can not be compared to domestic. BUT….. I don’t see how a domestic crawfish costs so much more than imported. Boudreaux’s $4.00 for 12 oz., domestic on sale 12.00 for 12 oz. I feel like I am being taken advantage of either way.

      Dang Steffi now I want some Bisque with loads of stuffed heads!

  5. Far too many people have no idea of what goes on before the food gets to the market, especailly if they do not live near the szource. Ex: folks in Wyoming have no idea of the impact of the oil spill. And (unless we have lived in Wyoming) we’re pretty clueless about the impact of 47 below F temps.

    But I think awareness of the food production chain should be increased.

  6. I’m sorry to hear this news. It definitely is not a good thing! People in the southwest are not hearing anything about the after affects of the BP gusher. I have heard though that oil is being reported in the water near where the spill was previously. What do you know about this?

    1. Kim, I went back and link to a study from the Gulf. These are non-profit organizations who are taking the most time to do these independent studies because BP and the govt. really don’t want us to know what things are really like, IMHO. The beach at Fourchon was covered in oil that TS LEE washed up just weeks ago. Did you hear about that? Every time there is a storm this oil will be stirred up.

  7. I buy only gulf shrimp and not imported too. I have enough stuff around me that has “product of China” or “made in China” on it. So far, our local grocer has been very good at stocking shrimp from the gulf whether it be from Texas or LA. It is more expensive though but, I prefer to know what I am eating.

    Kevin, they do make freezers with alarms. Mine went off recently when a roast fell off a crowded shelf and knocked the door ajar for about half an hour. I had to cook a few things in the door shelves but, other items were still well frozen. It buzzes loudly until you turn it off and then it has to stay off until it reaches a certain temp before you can turn it back on.

  8. My first question is always ‘where’d them shrimp come from?’. I was aghast when I went in a shop here in south Mississippi called ‘Louisiana Seafood’… and yep, there on the shelf in the frozen section, were crawfish and shrimp from Asia. That’s really disappointing.
    I was wondering about the shrimp season because I live about an hour north of the Gulf, and a couple weeks ago you could buy shrimp along the road here for less than $3.00 a pound. Made me wonder what they were selling at the dock for.
    I even get the willies when they advertise ‘Gulf Shrimp’… which Gulf, exactly??? I don’t trust them.
    When I was a kid and lived in New Orleans, we’d just cast a net for shrimp, but sometimes my dad would buy some. He paid 10-cents for 100 shrimp…
    Haha, yeah, we froze them in milk cartons!

    1. Scarlet, welcome to the bayou. I think this is the first time you’ve commented? Nice to have you here. Good for you for asking! I hate to share this, but Rouse’s is a big grocery chain down here, and they sell foreign frozen products, too. There is also another side to this story that no one tells . . . that La. Shrimp processors have been buying Chinese product for years, re-boxing it as their own in order to have frozen stock to sell to wholesale buyers when the local catch wanes. I fear we will be seeing more and more of this. And why it is legal, I do not know. If the state shrimp police read this comment, they might come get me and lock me up. On another note to you and the rest of us: If you are worried about road-side seafood vendors, ask to see their LDWF retail license. The LDWF is now requiring all shrimp sellers to have this license. I know we hate to be licensed for yet one more thing, but in a way, it protects the seller from, as you hint at, selling a foreign product as a local one. And were those Miss. shrimp or La. Gulf shrimp you were buying? My how things have changed, right? Thanks again for stopping by! BW

  9. Great post Wendy, but sad. I must admit I get so “desperate” for seafood up here, that I don’t ask where it comes from. And of course we aren’t hearing about this through the news media, that I’m aware of. I just had someone here in Ohio say to me the other day that they were glad the Gulf had recovered from the hurricane and oil spill. But I guess the damage is longer reaching then we’ll probably ever know.

    1. Thanks, Monica! I understand the desperation. Most folks who eat out at big chains in Houma don’t ever bother to ask. What’s even stranger, is to go to a locall owned family restaurant, ask the wait staff where the shrimp came from, and they look at you like you have two heads. If they can’t get me a straight, honest answer, I lask for the manager; if he/she’s not available, I ask them to pass on a message for me: They should be buying and selling only La. shrimp and until they do, I won’t be ordering it from the menu.

  10. So when M_D was blowing on and on those giant shrimp that jumped in the boat. And in huge numbers were they brown swimps? Us dumb yankees don’t grasp the difference. I heard about ‘river shrimp’ too…

    Coffee is done and sacs is biting here.

      1. LOL…. closest thing I ever saw to an alarm was a little red light that was always on, in the grill, at the bottom. The electrican said it was there so you knew you had power. I just assumed it was part of the logo….. Its OK, everyone else laughed at me when he said it back then too.

        1. I have one of those little lights too but, it is orange. Would be nice if it lit up enough to use as a night light. The alarm buttons are right next to it of course. Right at floor level. I have to use a thin ink pen or the ice pick to turn it on and off. If buzzes like an alarm clock if the temp begins to rise.

          1. I believe no smell is more difficult to get out of a spoiled freezer than seafood, like shrimp and fish. We put mine on the back porch, on blocks, so The Captain could bleach underneath for me. He never did, so there she sits, plugged in, and I’m using it like ol’ country folk OUTSIDE, LOL! I’m sure with all the humidity, the whole thing will rust to pieces soon enough. I’m just fearful to bring it back in the house. IF I buy a new one, I guess I’ll buy a chest type, so I can stand on my head and dig for stuff; at least it won’t ever get left O P E N again.

            1. Years ago I had a freezer door left ajar. I gave away sooooo much food that was starting to defrost. Solution to that…LOCK the door! That’s what I did. No more doors left open! If your door doesn’t have a lock, put a strap (Velcro) on it. Just long enough (6″) to go from the door to the side of the freezer. It will act as a reminder to everyone to CLOSE THE DOOR!

              1. LOL… need one of those little Japanese car door alarms.

                “The Door is Ajar!” “The Door is Ajar!”

                ROFL….. Thats just what we need a talking appliance. Next the Ice Box would be telling use to put the pie down and get some fruit!

  11. That is not good. I noticed today that there were no fresh gulf shrimp at the grocers. And that is very unusual.

  12. Wow reading a comment from one of your readers really brought fond memories for me. My mom is from Houma and we used to bring back milk cartons of seafood to Birmingham when we visited my grandparents. Those were the good old days. We were lucky to get some brown shrimp from a truck coming up from the coast. Next time will ask to see the LDWF
    Genie _wife of Wills kitchen

    1. I’m glad we sparked a memory. There’s only one problem with that, Genie! NOBODY drinks milk from cartons anymore, LOL! Well, hardly ever. But I guess I could start buying half gallons of milk and O.J. in order to have those containers again. I visited Will’s Kitchen, and there sure is some good looking cooking going on over there! Please come back any time to get a reminder of home. There are about four year’s worth of archived stories here you can entertain yourself with! Take a look at the Category List and see what strikes your fancy! BW

  13. I sent some shrimp from the grocery store (NOLA) in for testing a few months ago and they showed high levels of TPH (total petroleum hydrocarbons) and cadmium. We lose either way, you’re right.

    1. Hi Mac and thank you for sharing your experience with us. If my readers would like to have shrimp tested, where would they take it? Welcome to the bayou and please come back often! BW