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Fishing Communities Facts
Many communities in the Gulf of Mexico were
originally founded to exploit the rich marine resources.
Some communities in the Gulf of Mexico, for example,
Empire and Venice in Louisiana, are below sea level
and protected by levies.
In many coastal communities, fishermen can no
longer afford to live near the water because
increasing development and redevelopment of these
areas has raised the cost of living beyond their means.
Seafood processing and sales
In 2006, there were 174 fish processing plants and
255 wholesale businesses located in the Gulf region
that together employed 10,841 workers.
Louisiana had the most wholesaler plants in 2006
(126) that together employed 661 workers, while
Texas had the second highest number (77) that
together employed 825 workers.
The combination of long term increases in expenses
including marine diesel fuel, combined with the
dramatic increase in the amount of relatively cheap
imported farm raised shrimp, is making it very
difficult for many Gulf fishermen to make a living in
commercial fishing. Over 90% of the Nation’s shrimp
supply is now imported.
Vietnamese fishermen are now an important part of
the shrimp fishery in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Florida had the most saltwater recreational fishermen
in the United States in 2006: 3.7 million, and another
2.9 million saltwater anglers from other states
reported saltwater fishing trips to Florida in that year.
These recreational fishermen released just over 44%
of their catch in 2006.
Coastal dwelling American Indians relied on the Gulf
of Mexico’s inshore marine resources for part of their
subsistence for thousands of years before Europeans
began arriving in the 16th century.
Some of the first scientific studies of the Gulf’s fishery
resources were begun in 1884 by the U.S.
Commission of Fish and Fisheries. They eventually
included surveys of the oyster beds in areas near
Apalachicola, Florida, and inshore waters of Alabama
as well as other areas.
[Source: Gulf Summary Communities]
“Overall, 30 fishing communities in Alabama, 99 in Louisiana, 14 in Mississippi, 68 in Texas, and 119 in West Florida have been profiled by NMFS social scientists because of the nature of their links with commercial and/or recreation fishing. In 2006, 14 United States’ top fifty ports by landings revenue were located in the Gulf region. They were: Bayou La Batre, Alabama; Dulac-Chauvin, Empire-Venice, Golden Meadow-Leeville, Intracoastal City. Lafitte-Barataria. Louisiana: Brownwsville-Port Isabel. Port Arthur, Galveston and Palacios, Texas; and Apalachicola, Fort Myers, Key West, Tampa Bay- st. Petersburg, Florida. On average, the Gulf of Mexico accounted for 21% of U.S. annual landing revenue from 1997-2006.
The Gulf’s top fishing communities were typically smaller towns and villages with populations below 20,000 persons. However, on major metropolitan center approaching 2 million (Houston, Texas), and a few larger coastal cities also have significant fisheries involvement (Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; and Brownsville, Texas) Louisiana’s and Alabama’s top fishing communities are most likely to have populations below 5,000.Nine of Louisiana’s top ten fishing communities and seven of Alabama’s top ten fishing communities fall in this group.”
[Source: NOAA Fisheries Service – Southeast Region – Publications,
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/socialsci/socialsci.htm, Accessed: June 2, 2010. No date cited. See also: Identifying Communities Associated with the Fishing Industry in Louisiana]