44th Shrimp Fest Shines Light on Local Fishermen

The 44th Annual National Shrimp Fest wrapped up this Sunday. Organizers say roughly about 250,000 people came out to the event. And they estimate, visitors help bring in 40 million dollars to the local economy. While the event has long been an economic driver for the Gulf Shores area, recently the focus has also been to help local shrimpers.

This year the effort was organized under one tent where cooking classes went side by side with information on where the shrimp is caught..

“We want them to meet the families, our fishermen are here actually talking to folks –and meet those folks and understand what they are doing,” said Ernie Anderson, Graham Shrimp Company and Organized Seafood Association President.

Anderson was just one of a handful of shrimpers who helped cook shrimp dishes as well as explain first hand how Gulf seafood impacts the local economy. “Every boat or oyster boat you see, that’s a business, a small family business and we got hundreds of them in the seafood industry in Alabama,” said Anderson.

He tells us fishermen are not only struggling to keep up as overseas exports drive down prices, but this year’s high production is also adding further stress on the markets.

“But it’s supply and demand, we’ve had a good supply of shrimp so we’re trying to pick-up demand by trying to get more people to eat good Alabama seafood,” said Chris Blankenship Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission.

Blankenship says his organization is now stepping up efforts to reach new buyers and promote Gulf seafood. Meanwhile Graham tells us his shrimpers may have a rough year, but he’s hopeful it could be better if folks buy more locally caught shrimp.

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