Cheap Imports Are Blamed for Boat Fire - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/08/04

Cheap Imports Are Blamed for Boat Fire

As Shrimper Randy Wilson climbs on his boat called "The Desperado", he knows he's lucky his boat is the only thing that was damaged. This weekend, while he was out shrimping, his boat caught fire while he was asleep.

"Something caught fire in the engine room and just gutted the engine room and the cabin and the back of the boat and pretty well destroyed everything," Wilson said.

Wilson's boat is 40 years old and wasn't insured. For the last three years, he wasn't able to make needed repairs to the boat therefore making his shrimping job unsafe.

"We been having to neglect stuff because we ain't got the money to fix it," Wilson said.

While the damage to the boat can be measured by the truckload, the damage to the shrimp industry is immeasurable. Shrimpers blame this on the imported shrimp that are causing the prices to plummet.

"The way the imports has got us, it's about 40 percent of our profit. You take 40 percent of your check and try to live on that," Wilson said.

Now Wilson is just trying to make minimal repairs after the fire, but he still thinks it could be unsafe, since he's having to cut costs.

"To fix the boat back into working 100 percent you probably talking $12,000-$14,000," Wilson said.

This is $14,000 that Wilson certainly doesn't have even though he's catching lots of shrimp.

"We catching the poundage, but we just ain't getting paid for the poundage," Wilson said.

And not turning enough profit in the shrimping industry, is making shrimpers cut costs in safety, making one of the most dangerous jobs even riskier.

According to the U-S Coast Guard, commercial shrimping and fishing are 20 times more dangerous than other occupations. 18 commercial fishermen died in the Gulf last year, that's five more than in 2002.

By: Claire Nelson

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