Friday, September 09, 2005

Alaska shrimp to help the Gulf?

This article in the LA Times got me thinking about the disparity of the problems the shrimpers in the Gulf have, compared to the shrimpers in Alaska.

The venerable old "Charles W," the mainstay of the Petersburg shrimp fleet since the 1930s.

The former have nothing but their markets and the latter have everything but a market. Well, that's not quite true. It's just the shrimpers in the traditional shrimp capital of Alaska, Petersburg, that have no "shrimp shed," as they call the shrimp processors in the Gulf.

The processing plant that had been buying shrimp since 1917 just decided to end their shrimp trade this summer. Of course they were expecting a big salmon year too, and farm raised shrimp have been cutting everybody's profits that handle wild shrimp. So, Petersburg fishermen have the shrimp that the Gulf states need, just no way to get it to them. Any ideas?

It would add insult to injury if the Gulf shrimpers found that their markets had shriveled up when they finally get back out fishing. Food handlers do that. They switch to something else when they can't get what they want and then they aren't there when you can supply them. Not that this would happen in the Deep South across the board, but I'm using this to make a point.

The point being, is Petersburg, Wrangell and other Alaska shrimp ports could send product to the Gulf shrimpers markets to keep them open until those shrimpers could get back on their feet. (Although the market might get spoiled on the tiny cold water delectables found in Alaska.) That is a risk worth taking though.

Anyway, it's just a thought. Somebody would have to start cooking shrimp in Petersburg, even though it might be a break-even proposition. This is what the UFA Director could do that is CONCRETE. And it might get the Petersburg shrimp fishery jump-started, a classic win-win situation.

It would be really telling if UFA couldn't pull off a simple thing like that. This is a good time of year in Alaska to do something like this too. I don't think you would HAVE to peel the shrimp, just cook 'em, chill 'em and fly them all the way to the Deep South.

I was involved in an operation that cooked and brine-froze many hundreds of thousands of pounds of dungeness crab in Yakutat back in 1971. We chartered cargo planes to haul it all South to get the jump on the market. Maybe it could work on shrimp if there was a brine freezer still around to use.


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