- Florida’s fresh seafood industry is posting significantly reduced hauls across the entire state, from the Atlantic, to the Gulf Coast to the Panhandle.
- A combination of two factors has contributed to the ongoing pinch: rising diesel fuel costs and hurricane damage to fishing and shrimping boats.
- The industry is expected to rebound as boats are replaced and the cost of diesel fuel returns to lower levels.
(The Center Square) — Since the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes and increased fuel costs have reduced the catch of Florida’s seafood industry.
Florida’s Gulf Coast is the largest fishery for the state and is still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Ian in late 2022. The storm made landfall at Fort Myers and devastated Florida’s shrimping industry, sinking boats and destroying infrastructure crucial to the industry.
According to preliminary data compiled by The Southern Shrimp Alliance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fishery Monitoring Branch, Florida’s March 2023 landings off the West Coast were 72.7% below the historical average. In total, 2023 landings for the West Coast are 42.1% below historical trends.
March 2023 landings on Florida’s Atlantic Coast were 63.5% below historical averages. The data showed that in March 2023, Florida landed 40,000 pounds of shrimp, close to the 48,000 pounds in 2019. That is well below what was caught in March of 2021 and 2022, which had 170,000 pounds and 121,000 pounds of shrimp landed respectively.
For the first quarter of 2023, however, Florida’s East Coast landings were 25% above historical averages, bringing in 834,000 pounds.
The U.S. International Trade Commission’s June publication says that the number of shrimp boats destroyed by Ian led to a reduction in harvesting. The publication also says that the price of diesel fuel has affected shrimping activity after reaching a 15-year high in 2022. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, diesel prices in Florida this week are down nearly eight cents per gallon compared to the week prior and $1.20 less than the previous year.