Catch Up, Prices Down

A thriving dockside market may be the only thing keeping some Mississippi shrimpers from going out of business as shrimp prices plummet to all-time lows. Mississippi's one thousand commercial shrimpers catch more than nine million pounds a year, worth more than 30 million dollars. However, imported shrimp have driven down prices since the late 1970's and in the past year demand for shrimp has fallen.

In Biloxi and Gulfport, more boats than in the past are selling their shrimp at commercial harbors. The dockside market has allowed Mississippi shrimpers to sell their catch to the public for more than they can earn at a processing house. Shrimpers in Louisiana and Alabama are worse off than fishermen on the Mississippi Gulf Coast because there's no prosperous dockside market in those states. Even dockside prices in Mississippi are dropping, shrimpers say. This week at dockside, jumbo shrimp sold for three dollars to three dollars and 50 cents a pound and medium shrimp sold for two dollars to two dollars and 50 cents a pound, far less than in past years.

Shrimpers and government officials from eight states met this week with international trade experts in Louisiana to plan a lawsuit against up to 16 foreign countries. They accuse the foreign countries of selling shrimp at below-market prices.