Grand Isle, and Venice in Louisiana, Port Bolivar and Galveston in Texas, and Key West in Florida also appear to have very strong relationships with the Gulf shrimp fishery. Conversely, the association between the fishery and the Louisiana communities of Houma and New Orleans appear to be less strong by these standards. Such is the case even more so with Pt. Lavaca, Texas and Ocean Springs, Mississippi. These findings illustrate that fishing vessel owners do not always live where their product is being bought and sold3.
Though shrimp sales and landings volume are potentially important indicators of a community’s ties to the fishery, also of interest is the number of vessels that supply shrimp to dealers in each community. More so than volume and sales, number of vessels is indicative of how many fishermen and fishing households have a relationship with a particular community. This information is presented in Table 4.5. Note that, in this case, all known Gulf shrimp vessels are taken into account. In Table 4.6, only federally permitted Gulf shrimp vessels are considered. There are significant differences between the two, which in turn reflect differences between communities and their relationship with harvesters whose activities predominantly take place in the EEZ as opposed to state waters. For example, when taking all vessels into account, communities in Louisiana occupy nine of the top ten spots within the ranking (Dulac, Golden Meadow, Grand Isle, Lafitte, Venice, Chauvin, Empire, Houma, and New Orleans) with only Port Arthur being the non-Louisiana community in that group. Conversely, when only looking at federally permitted vessels, four communities in both Texas (Port Arthur, Palacios, Brownsville, and Freeport) and Louisiana (Dulac, Abbeville, Grand Isle, and Golden Meadow) rank in the top ten, along with Ft. Myers Beach, Florida and Bayou La Batre, Alabama. In general, it is fairly clear that many communities in Louisiana have stronger ties to vessels that operate in state waters, while several communities in Texas are more closely aligned with federally permitted vessels. For example, Lafitte, Chauvin, Empire, Houma, and New Orleans have much stronger relationships with vessels that operate in state as opposed to federal waters, while the opposite is true for Port Arthur, Palacios, Bayou La Batre, Brownsville, Freeport, Biloxi, Sabine Pass, and Ft. Myers Beach.
Because of the decline in the number of shrimp processors and the resulting fact that most communities only have one or two shrimp processors, and the “rule of three” which requires NMFS to protect businesses’ confidential information, very little detailed information regarding processing activities can be revealed at the community level. Nonetheless, the ranking should provide some insights into approximately how important shrimp processing activities are to the 39 communities listed in Table 4.7. Some observations are worthy of noting.
First, the processors in Lakeland and Dover, Florida are obviously very important within the industry. However, given their inland locations and the fact that no domestic shrimp dealers are located in these communities, it is quite likely that these processors rely mostly if not entirely on imported product4. Most of the other communities appear to have a very strong or at least some relationship with domestic harvesters and dealer/wholesalers. Further, with the exceptions of
3 Note that the information in this table was compiled according to where the shrimp were bought and sold, which is oftentimes different from the port of landing (i.e. where the shrimp cross the dock) since product is often trucked from a port to a dealer that may be in a different community. For this analysis, vessel counts were not presented according to port of landing since, within the SLF, the “port” code is oftentimes a county or parish, which does not allow the analyst to determine the specific community where the vessel is docked.
4 This hypothesis has in fact been confirmed by several industry representatives.