Annual Blessing of the Fleet begins shrimping season

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BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Texas shrimpers remain optimistic about the start of 2019 shrimp season after overcoming a recent worker shortage. Today the Texas Shrimp Association gathers at the Brownsville Shrimp Basin for the annual blessing of the fleet.

Andrea Hance, Texas Shrimp Association, “The community comes together. We usually have a pastor or a priest that says a few words. Basically, we’re blessing the bountiful harvest and blessing the safety of the crew.

Since 2016 the shrimp industry was seeing a shortage of much needed migrant workers as a result of limits on the number of workers available per year. According to local shrimpers they’re jobs American workers will not take due to the long hours at sea combined with long shifts of physical labor. This year an estimated 15,000 more visa workers are available for the upcoming season.

“We had an increase of visa workers we were able to utilize. So most of these guys are going out with a full crew.” says Hance.

Each year 40 to 50 million pounds of shrimp for the state of Texas. This year there is a projected shortage of about 20 percent less. Regardless, Texas shrimpers remain optimistic about this year’s catch.

“So you can look at it one or two ways”, says Hance. “They are either going to be washed out and be a little bit smaller than on average or it could end up being a bumper crop. We just never know until we get out there. We have a full crew and we’re looking to fill our nets.”

Along with the start of a new season the Texas Shrimp Association is currently looking at a policy that would ask restaurants to identify the source of their shrimp. This modeled after a similar policy was passed and adopted in Louisiana this year.

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