By: Jeremy Alford
After more than a month of waiting, the House last week overwhelmingly refused to renew a series of fees on shrimpers. The Legislature first established the fees in 2005 at the industrys request to help pay for Louisianas share of an international trade petition filed by the Southern Shrimp Alliance. The move was intended to address illegal dumping of foreign shrimp below the cost of production.
The results of the landmark trade action, however, have been disappointing. Some countries have been able to dodge tariffs, and some local fishermen have been issued relief checks only to be told they need to be returned. Rep. Ernest Wooton, R-Belle Chasse, told lawmakers that his House Bill 1200 would keep the fees and the industry afloat. Rep. Jerry Truck Gisclair, D-Raceland, countered by saying many shrimpers consider the trade actions closed and dont want money going to an organization to which they do not belong. I have spoken to several shrimpers, and they dont want to pay any more than they have to, Gisclair said. GOP Rep. Joe Harrison of Napoleonville said shrimpers in his district want more money put into marketing. Thank you for your misinformation, Wooton replied, adding that the votes against his bill spelled certain death for the industry.