Low fuel prices may have saved Gulf Coast shrimpers

Another American protein is struggling to turn a profit. Here is how Gulf Coast shrimpers navigated last year’s slow season and what they expect in 2021.

Texas shrimpers had a painfully low amount of shrimp harvested in the Gulf in 2020. It dropped from an annual average of 45-50 million pounds of shrimp to 38 million pounds. Yet in the beginning stages of a new year, there is interesting news about what actually happened.

According to Andrea Hance with the Texas Shrimp Association, “We actually ended the year on a fairy positive note and it’s kind of hard to believe, because I had to back and look at some detailed records as to the reasoning behind some of these boats... actually coming through the year and actually turning a profit.”

Hance explains one major factor that led to money being made: “The fuel prices were extremely low. So, when you’re talking to fill up one fishing vessel for 30 to 45 day trip, you’re looking on average, typically, anywhere between $20,000 to $25,000 dollars worth of fuel. That’s probably on the low side, but with fuel prices so low you know that obviously helped our bottom line quite a bit.”

Another part of the equation here is the dwindling amount of shrimp boats in the Gulf. It might lead to less total shrimp harvested, but more shrimp per boat.

“We’re looking at this and the boats continue to decline. Twenty, Twenty-five years ago, there were more than 5,000 commercial fishing vessels, shrimping vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, and now there’s less than 900,” she adds.

Also, she says that the profit made will now go into getting the boats fueled up again for next season.


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