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Seafood industry survives gulf oil spill

Sept. 20, 2012 at 4:57 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Figures from 2011 indicate a solid rebound in fisheries production and revenue in Louisiana, despite fears of a harvest devastated by the Deepwater oil spill.

The state's catch of the herring-like menhaden, used in fish meal and for oils used in animal feeds, rose to 1.3 billion pounds, beating the 10-year average harvest since 2001 of about 900 million pounds, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported Thursday.

Louisiana harvested 11.1 million pounds of oysters in 2011, close to the 10-year average since 2001, which is 12.6 million pounds. But revenue from oyster fishing beat the 10-year average, coming in at $41.6 million compared with $36 million, The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans reported.

The state's haul of white shrimp fell compared with the 10-year average of 64.3 million pounds, as fisherman pulled in 52.6 million pounds in 2011, but again revenue was up at $98.2 million against an average of $93.7 million.

The brown shrimp catch for 2011 was 39.2 million pounds, compared with an average over 10 years of 43.5 million pounds.

The total harvest of shrimp for the United States was 312.7 million pounds in 2011, an increase of 53.6 million pounds compared with 2010. Revenues for shrimp rose by $104 million over 2010.

The Gulf of Mexico region accounted for 68 percent of the U.S. catch with 92.6 million pounds harvested by fisherman from Louisiana, followed by 79.3 million caught by Texans and 19.2 million pulled in by boats registered in Alabama.

The price for shrimp was little changed year to year. Shrimp was priced at $1.60 in 2010 and $1.66 in 2011, the newspaper said.

The blue crab harvest was also not decimated by the oil spill that was considered the worst in U.S. history -- a spill that starting with an explosion at British oil giant BP's Deepwater Horizon oil platform on April 20, 2010.

The blue crab harvest came to 43.7 million pounds in 2011, slightly less than the 10-year average for the state of 44.3 million pounds.

Revenue, again, was higher, however, with crabs bringing in $36.2 million for Louisiana crabber, the second highest year for revenue after 2009, when $36.7 million was earned by the state's crabbers.

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