Shrimpers face tough times

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
6 July 2006, at 1:00am

US - Robert Long stood on the deck of the shrimp boat Fortuna one recent morning, a Busch beer in one hand and a scowl on his unshaven face as the boat's crew prepared to go out into the Gulf of Mexico. Shrimp nets hung limply off the Fortuna's rigging against a flat, rainy sky as the captain revved the boat's engine, pouring black smoke across the waters of the Port of Tampa. To Long, one of the Fortuna's crewmen, the deep, throbbing pulse of that engine was once the sound of money. But now, the noise is as empty as the nets hanging above his head. Shrimpers are riding hard times these days. Battered by high fuel and insurance costs, and especially squeezed by an ever-rising tide of cheaper imported shrimp, shrimpers say Florida's commercial food shrimp industry is in a marked decline from its heyday 20 years ago, when shrimp boats crowded the Gulf of Mexico like a galaxy of freckles on a child's sun-splashed face. Source: Herald Tribune