NEW ORLEANS -- Louisiana was the nation's top-volume fish producer last year with a harvest of 1.9 billion pounds of fish and shellfish, according to figures assembled by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Cameron is the top port nationally in terms of catch volume, while the Empire-Venice area is third and the Dulac-Chauvin area is fourth in the nation in fish volume.
The federal report shows Louisiana is far ahead of second-place Alaska, where fishermen caught 1 billion pounds last year. But Louisiana was second to Alaska in catch value because of the high price of Alaskan salmon and king crab.
'Diverse harvests of such species as menhaden, shrimp, oysters, crawfish, finfish and blue crabs reflect a well-balanced seasfood industry in Louisiana,' said Ken Roberts, a marine economist with the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service.
The dollar value of the catch at Louisiana's ports is not as high as at other places, but Roberts said fishing revenues have a tremendous impact on the state's small fishing ports beause they are small, relatively isolated communities.
Cameron led the nation in 1984 with 679 million pounds of fish, valued at $38.2 million. The Empire-Venice port collected 384 million pounds of seafood last year, with a value of $41.6 million. Dulac-Chauvin had 327 million pounds of fish, valued at $59.7 million.
Despite Louisiana's prominence as a fish producer, many state seafood producers say they continue to suffer economic problems. Roberts said shrimp, crawfish and oysters producers have had difficulty because of the state's poor economic climate.
Shrimp prices have fallen during the past year, partly as a result of the 422 million pounds of shrimp imported last year.