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Marketing, operations information featured at seafood meeting

News Release Distributed 03/19/14

HOUMA, La. -- The LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant held a seafood summit March 12 and 13 to provide information to help coastal residents who make their living from the seafood industry.

Experts spoke on various ways of operating more efficiently, handling and marketing products and safety along with an update on turtle-excluder devices and grant programs available to fishing operations.

Thomas Hymel, LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent in Iberia Parish, said the Vermilion Bay Sweet marketing program that has been successful with shrimp could also be adapted for fish, including catfish and black drum.

The shrimp program’s Vermilion Bay Sweet brand is owned by the Port of Delcambre, and the port collects a 10-cent fee on each package to be used for promoting the product. “It’s like you have a marketing firm working for you,” Hymel said.

Kevin Savoie, LSU AgCenter and Sea Grant fisheries agent in Cameron Parish, said the same marketing program based in Delcambre can be used in the rest of the state.

At demonstrations, Hymel used a machine to devein shrimp and a vacuum packing machine for packaging fish for retail sales.

LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry said a U.S. Department of Agriculture trade adjustment assistance program to help shrimpers offset losses from foreign competition has been a success, resulting in $18 million in payments. Of the 2,300 eligible individuals in Louisiana, 90 percent completed the training necessary to get the assistance.

“We are now waiting to see if we get it re-authorized and refunded,” Guidry said.

Ron Rainey, of the Southern Risk Management Education Center, said more money will be coming for shrimpers who participated in the 2011 program. “You should expect a supplemental check sometime later,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be here by mid- to late summer.”

Rusty Gaude, LSU AgCenter fisheries agent in Jefferson Parish, said the Crescent City Farmers Market is providing a good outlet to sell seafood. He said the White Boot Brigade is working as a marketing organization to bring Louisiana seafood to cities around the country.

A community-supported fishery program allows consumers to commit to buying seafood, Gaude said. “Each year, we double the amount of people participating.”

Louisiana Sea Grant industry liaison Julie Falgout said operating a boat at its most efficient speed will save on fuel. Just a 1-knot speed reduction can save as much as 20 percent, she said. A fuel monitoring meter can help a boat owner determine the optimum speed.

Another summit will be held in Delcambre later in March. On March 25, the day will concentrate on shrimping, and March 26 will be for crabbers. Both sessions start at 8:30 a.m. and last until 3 p.m. Health screenings will be offered along with demonstrations of safety techniques, vacuum packing and boat gear technology and maintenance along with presentations on the status of the seafood industry.

The shrimp day will include a tour of the Crown Processing Plant, along with talks on refrigeration, propellers, a refrigeration cost-share program and wild shrimp.

The crab day will include demonstrations of soft shell crab shredding methods along with talks on artificial bait, handling the catch, value-added marketing and responsible mariner practices near commercial diving operations.

Bruce Schultz

Last Updated: 3/19/2014 12:38:32 PM

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