dependent on or substantially engaged in” fishing or fishing related activities. At this time, the NMFS has only received the final report for Louisiana and, most recently, a draft of the report for west Florida. Only the Louisiana report will be referenced for current purposes. Until all of the research is completed, and in-depth community profiles are developed for some sample communities, it is not possible to fully describe the possible impacts of any change in federal fishing regulations in the federal Gulf shrimp fishery.
Nonetheless, it is possible to look at the geographic distribution of landings and revenues, vessels, primary permit owners1, dealers/wholesalers, and processors. Such information should be useful in gauging the fishery’s importance to particular communities, and the importance of certain communities to the fishery. At least for Louisiana communities, some insights can be offered with respect to impacts on communities that are potentially “fishing communities,” within the meaning of National Standard 8. Further, by comparing basic demographic information of communities associated with the Gulf shrimp fishery to national averages, it should be possible to discern whether any of these communities are socioeconomically is advantaged, and thus whether impacts on them should be given special consideration, as per Executive Order 12898.
Permit owners are geographically distributed across 332 different communities (Table 4.3). Though the vast majority reside in Gulf states, a fair number reside in many other states, ranging from the South and Mid-Atlantic States, and even the west coast of the U.S. The geographic distribution of permit and vessel ownership is important since, when federal regulations are imposed on permitted vessels which experience adverse impacts, it can generally be assumed that they will be most keenly felt in the communities with the largest number of permit owners. The data indicate that the Texas communities of Brownsville, Port Isabel, Palacios, and Port Arthur are home to more than 16% of the federal permit owners. Other Texas communities where permit ownership is relatively important are Freeport, Port Lavaca, and Aransas Pass. In Louisiana, permit ownership is prevalent in the communities of Cut Off, Chauvin, New Orleans, Houma, and
Abbeville2. In Mississippi, Biloxi and Ocean Springs are the primary hubs of permit ownership. In Alabama, permit ownership is concentrated in Bayou La Batre and in Florida, Ft. Myers Beach is clearly the dominant community with respect to permit ownership, particularly if Ft. Myers is included.
The information presented in Table 4.4 regarding the distribution of food shrimp dealers, landings, and sales by community provides additional insights into the importance of the shrimp fishery to particular communities, and their importance to the fishery. Some of the communities that appear to be most important are similar to those with the greatest number of vessel permit owners. However, differences do exist. Some of these differences are likely because the distribution of permit owners only considers vessels that are permitted for the EEZ fishery, whereas the information in Table 4.4 pertains to all Gulf food shrimp landings, regardless of whether they came from federal or state waters. Specifically, in addition to the communities with concentrations of permit ownership, the communities of Dulac, Golden Meadow, Empire,
1 “Primary” in this case means the individual or business to whom the permit was actually issued, even though there may be more than one owner.
2 According to IAI’s research, New Orleans should likely not be considered a single community, but rather a “supra” community composed of several “sub-communities.” This issue deserves further research.