Shrimpers hear new regulations, techniques

Thomas Hymel

Thomas Hymel, LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent shows shrimpers the effectiveness of equipment that can be used to freeze shrimp in chilled brine. Photo by Bruce Schultz

Net Work

Dale Stevens, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, demonstrates the proper installation of a turtle excluder device on a shrimp trawl at the Dock Day in Delcambre held March 8 by the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant. Photo by Bruce Schultz

(03/11/16) DELCAMBRE, La. – Shrimpers from across south Louisiana gathered March 8 to learn about new fishing regulations and techniques at an event organized by the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant.

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Coast Guard discussed current laws for commercial fishermen.

Leslie Davis, of Louisiana Sea Grant, described for more than 50 shrimpers in attendance the requirements for shrimpers to sell direct to the public.

Wendell Verret, director of the Port of Delcambre, said fewer boats now dock at Delcambre because of the effects of cheap, imported shrimp.

AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent Thu Bui said the largest amount of imported shrimp comes from India, followed by Indonesia, Ecuador, Thailand and Vietnam.

Verret said a new marina complex with a boat launch, dock and pavilion has helped shrimpers with a venue to sell their shrimp to the public, particularly by the smaller vessels that typically go out for just a few days before coming in to sell their fresh catch.

The Delcambre Direct Seafood website helps shrimpers by connecting them with customers online. “Last year was probably our best year,” Verret said.

AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent Mark Shirley quizzed shrimpers on their knowledge of shrimping laws and methods, and Bui provided Vietnamese translation.

AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent Thomas Hymel demonstrated chilling and freezing equipment that shrimpers could use on their boats.

Robert Buatt, LDWF southwest regional enforcement captain, reviewed some of the regulations concerning which fish species the shrimpers can catch and consume on board during their voyage and which ones they can bring home to sell or keep for their families.

LDWF shrimp program leader Jeff Marks answered questions on boundary lines and how the seasons are set each year.

Representatives of Fletcher Technical Community College talked about the school’s training courses, including air conditioning, refrigeration, diesel engines, welding, industrial maintenance and business, could be helpful to shrimpers.

Shrimpers were polled and expressed interest in arranging some short courses on these topics during the winter months when they are not shrimping.

Harry March, fishing vessel safety inspector for the Coast Guard, said six deaths occurred in the Gulf of Mexico last year. He said mariners should not be reluctant to call the Coast Guard for a possible rescue because there is no charge for the emergency service.

Safety requirements differ based on the size of the vessel and how far they travel offshore, March said. A new requirement for vessels over 65 feet long is to have an Automatic Identification System, which broadcasts a signal to other boat captains to help avoid collisions and helps the Coast Guard locate vessels in an emergency.

Other Coast Guard representatives reviewed regulations concerning fuel spills and ways to avoid problems during fueling.

Dale Stevens with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration demonstrated the proper measurements for turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on shrimp trawls and how to correct problems. “For the most part, the fishermen have policed themselves and brought the TEDs compliance to a whole new level,” he said.

The increased numbers of nesting turtles indicates the program is working, Stevens said. If compliance falls too low, he said, it’s possible some areas of the Gulf of Mexico could be off-limits to shrimping. “You guys are really doing a good job with your TEDs.”

Violations carry a maximum fine of $10,000, Stevens said.

A proposed regulation would require TEDs on skimmer or butterfly nets, he said. Public meetings are being held along the Gulf Coast to obtain comments and possible alternatives to the proposal, including in Larose on April 18 and in Belle Chasse on April 19.

In addition to several displays at the event for products and services, Abbeville General Hospital nurses conducted free health screenings for the fishermen, and nutritionists gave advice on diets to improve health.

3/11/2016 3:19:51 PM
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