Shrimp fisheries receive positive review on sustainability
By: Sean Ellis
Shrimp fisheries in Louisiana received favorable marks on sustainability from the Audubon Nature Institute and the Marine Stewardship and Conservation program standards.
Damon Morris, Strategic Program Manager at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said Louisiana's shrimp fisheries received almost all positive marks under both organizations' standards with the only issues arising from data collection and management that may have been cleared up in a full assessment.
In the case of the only two “red” marks received, both of which from the Marine Stewardship and Conversation's standards, were because LDWF doesn't collect data to the detail the stewardship and conservation program does, Morris said.
When the notion of sustainability assessments were devised, it was for fisheries products to get into niche markets but now retailers are saying if the fishery is not sustainable then the product won't get into the market at all, Morris said.
Pre-assessments are the first step in a fishery being certified environmentally sustainable and forms to a set of internationally recognized standards.
The Shrimp Task Force authorized the pre-assessments in December.
Despite the good showing in the pre-assessments, there are some concerns that chasing certification could turn into a money pit for shrimpers.
Shrimp Task Force chairman Clint Guidry said there's nothing on the state or federal levels that says Louisiana fisheries are unsustainable but American businesses have to “jump through hoops” to prove that their products are sustainable.
“When you're dealing with entities, when on this hand they are wanting us to do all this stuff and on the other hand, they're buying shrimp from a country like Thailand and they're using antibiotics and slave labor and that's okay until someone writes something and brings it to their attention,” he said.
However, Guidry said the Task Force has always taken steps to go in the direction of certification if it improves the market.
Congress passed a bill Thursday aimed at helping local shrimpers by calling on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to take a more proactive stance towards policing foreign imports of seafood.
Staff Writer Sean Ellis can be reached at 857-2202 or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @courier_sean