Gulf Shrimpers Fear Oil Spill Will Put Them Out Of Business

WASHINGTON — Gulf of Mexico shrimp, famous for their sweet taste and firm texture, have survived a domestic market flooded by imports and a near-death experience after Hurricane Katrina.

However, the Gulf oil spill, arriving just as the harvesting season was about to begin in mid-May, has shut down key fishing waters and is proving even more worrisome to shrimpers, processers and restaurants as they face what could be a years long, if not permanent, loss of market share to farm-raised shrimp from Southeast Asia.

Gulf shrimp caught off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida is 10 percent of the U.S. market.

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Photo by James Edward Bates, Biloxi Sun Herald/MCT