(04/09/20) LAFAYETTE, La. — Fisherman Lance Nacio, of Montegut, Louisiana, is trying to keep his struggling seafood business going, one sale at a time.
With curtailed restaurant operations, fishermen have had difficulty selling their catch.
Nacio, a third-generation fisherman, set up a pop-up sale in the parking lot of Randol’s Restaurant in Lafayette. April 9 was his second time to use this approach.
“It’s keeping us afloat. It’s opening our mind on new ways to move product,” he said.
The pop-up sale was promoted on the Louisiana Direct Seafood website and on Facebook.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has promoted the Louisiana Direct Seafood concept. On Facebook, the governor encouraged buying seafood, and he listed the website, https://louisianadirectseafood.com/.
“When you go out to purchase food, please think about spending a few dollars on seafood caught and produced here at home. Each dollar helps Louisiana fishermen, their families and their communities — as well as the overall strength of our economy,” Edwards said.
At his press conference on April 9, the governor also urged the public to buy crawfish.
“But don’t have a block party. Do it on the scale that is appropriate,” he said.
Nacio’s customers could preorder fish and shrimp from Louisiana Direct Seafood and his website, https://annamarieshrimp.com/. Randol’s Restaurant also is selling live crawfish.
Nacio’s biggest customers had been wholesale buyers and restaurants all over North America, but that all went away with the coronavirus.
“Normally, this fish would be sent to Canada,” he said. “The whole supply chain has been disrupted.”
Thomas Hymel, LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent, said the direct sales facilitated by Louisiana Direct Seafood is allowing seafood businesses to continue cash flow, although it’s considerably less than the revenue before the pandemic.
Consumers can buy products from Louisiana fishermen and have them delivered to their homes by shopping on the website at https://louisianadirectseafoodshop.com/shop/.
Fishermen can sign up for free to be listed on Louisiana Direct Seafood, informing consumers what they will have available for sale.
“It allows them a way to get their product out there. Now is the time to take advantage of it,” Hymel said.
Nacio has been listed on the Louisiana Direct Seafood website for the past four years.
He has a shrimp boat and a fishing boat along with a processing plant. His children and nephew are working in the business.
Nacio’s boats are still going out but returning to dock sooner after catching about half of the usual haul.
“It’s just enough to keep the guys working and to keep the product flowing,” he said.
Nacio also sells at the Red Stick Farmers Market in Baton Rouge.
He’s not sure when he’ll return to Lafayette, but he said that could happen often with enough preorders.
“We’d like to come here every couple of weeks,” he said.
Lance Nacio makes a sale of fish to a consumer on April 9 in Lafayette. Nacio, a third-generation fisherman, from Montegut, said the direct sales are a boost for his struggling business. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter