Multi-cultural commercial fishers are synonymous with Louisiana itself. Primarily focusing on shrimp, crabs and crawfish, commercial fishers survive and flourish off the land, working 16 plus hour days doing what they love. Large and small boated fishers carry on the tradition, lifestyle and culture of their parents, grandparents and great grandparents. They worry about the future of their industry and their ability to support their families. They are fighting to preserve commercial fishing as a way of life for their own children and grandchildren.
Commercial fishers weathered years of price fluctuations, hurricanes and cold snaps, federal regulation, and damaging opposition from recreational anglers (in the form of State Law 1316). However, fishers were unprepared for their most recent setback: unprecedented imports of farm raised shrimp from foreign countries and corresponding rock-bottom prices for the domestic industry. As a result, families and their small businesses are scrambling to survive economically. They are hanging on to their homes along the marshes and substitute various short-term economies to preserve the way of life that they passionately describe as "doing what we love to do–it's like recreation."
Some other challenges include:
- Lack of access to affordable capital.
- Inability to develop and promote a proactive fisheries policy that focuses on a balanced and fair use of fisheries resources.
- Continued pressure from sports and recreational interests to limit commercial access to fishery resources and from staggering increases in imported shrimp, crawfish and catfish.
- Growing pressure to limit entry into, and place fishing quotas on, the commercial fishing industry.
- Lack of skills needed to organize themselves for maximum effectiveness.
- Continual pressure by oil and gas development that has already caused long-term damage to the marshes and weakened the estuary's ability to incubate new fish and shrimp populations.
- Environmental threats to fishing areas, including coastal erosion, loss of marshes from pollution, oil/gas, sewage discharge, recreational development and a growing Dead Zone in the Gulf.
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