Meeting for shrimpers features new equipment requirements, compliance

Schultz Bruce, Hymel, Thomas M., Matherne, Alan, Bell, Jon W.

News Release Distributed 03/05/13

HOUMA, La. – Area shrimpers learned about new equipment being required on their boats and the best ways to comply and become more efficient at the Louisiana Seafood Summit Feb. 27-March 1 organized by the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant.

“This is an educational outreach for the fishermen across our coast,” said Alan Matherne, LSU AgCenter fisheries and coastal agent in Terrebonne Parish. “It was an outstanding turnout. We had about 200 people each day.”

The first two days of the three-day event were spent indoors, with a trade show and presentations by seafood and fishing industry representatives. Thomas Hymel, LSU AgCenter marine extension agent, told about the direct marketing program for fishermen in the Louisiana Direct Seafood program that enables consumers to contact fishermen on their boats to arrange dockside sales.

Other presenters talked about the new regulations and equipment, including turtle excluder devices on skimmer trawls and wing nets.

With shrimp season just around the corner, the meeting was a chance for shrimpers to learn what they have to do to follow the latest regulations for turtle excluder devices, called TEDs, which are aimed at allowing sea turtles to escape from nets, and by-catch reduction devices, called BRDs, intended to channel juvenile fish back into the ocean.

“This is the time shrimpers are getting their boats ready,” Hymel said.

On the final day, shrimpers met at the David Chauvin Seafood dock to watch demonstrations of new equipment and techniques.

In the past few years, with fishing water closed from the BP oil leak, high fuel prices and more government regulations, fewer shrimpers are on the water, Matherne said. “Those that are left are the survivors.”

To continue in business, he said, shrimpers will have to make changes to be more efficient to save money and continue delivering a quality product.

Gary Graham of Texas Sea Grant showed new equipment and methods to comply with requirements for TEDs and BRDs. “I beg you, if you are pulling TEDs, to get things right,” he said.

Even details such as installing equipment at the proper angle can make a difference between compliance and violation, he said.

“If we get too many violations, they are saying they will close parts of the Gulf to fishing,” Graham said.

Federal regulators will be satisfied if they find 88 percent of shrimpers are meeting new requirements, he said, and so far the compliance rate is 87 percent.

Graham also had a metal trawl door, used to keep nets open, that is smaller than wooden doors typically used. “I promise you these doors will work,” he said.

The benefit is improved fuel efficiency because the smaller, more hydrodynamic doors have less drag, but they are only intended for nets that drag along the sea floor and not for skimmer nets.

A test showed a boat used 11.5 gallons of fuel per hour with regular doors and 9.25 gallons per hour with the metal doors, according to Graham.

He said a program offered by the non-profit organization Ocean Conservancy and Sea Grant will pay for half the cost of the doors, roughly $7,000 a pair.

Montegut shrimper Lance Nacio brought his shrimp grader to the demonstration. He carries the device on his boat to separate shrimp according to size. He said the device makes money by getting a better price for the larger shrimp that have already been separated from smaller catch. “My boat does not leave the dock if that thing is broken,” Nacio said.

LSU AgCenter seafood quality specialist Jon Bell demonstrated how a slurry of ice water can drop the temperature of shrimp faster than plain ice. He conducted an experiment that showed the ice water slurry dropped the temperature by 10-15 degrees in just a few minutes, compared to the drop of only 2-3 degrees with ice only.

Russell Miget of Texas A&M showed how salt mixed with chilled water creates a lower freezing point and can freeze shrimp.

Miget said 90 percent of shrimp sold in the United States are imported, and more than half of those are pond-raised. He said pond-raised shrimp lack the flavor of wild-caught shrimp.

Quickly freezing wild shrimp is the key to retaining flavor and the advantage over pond-raised shrimp, Miget said.

Hymel said more seafood clinics will be held across the state, including:

– Tuesday and Wednesday (March 5-6), training meeting at the Shrimp Festival Building in Delcambre.

– March 19, a dock day at the North Pier Dock in Delcambre.

– March 20, training meeting in Venice at the public dock.

– April 9, training meeting for Cameron and Calcasieu Parish, location not yet determined.

Bruce Schultz

3/6/2013 3:28:56 AM
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