Advocate editorial board opinion: Innovation will save Gulf of Mexico industry

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Sept. 6, 2011 at 4:06 a.m.

Like the Texas cowboy on the wide open ranges, who drove cattle to market on long drives to other states, the cowboys of the Gulf and back bays are a group of Texas icons who are slipping away in a modern world.

We reference the Advocate's three-part series by reporter Diana Wray on Texas shrimping that ended Tuesday. If you missed it, go online to to read and listen to videos.

The times have presented difficult hurdles for the Gulf Coast industry. Regulations, foreign competition, sparse catches indicating fewer shrimp and a dwindling fleet of shrimp boats because of fuel and other associated costs to maintain them make shrimping a difficult job.

We lament the obstacles that remaining shrimpers encounter nowadays. And we praise them for being stout and determined to succeed.

And we believe they will succeed in the end. Why? Because a large majority of us love shrimp.

Foreign shrimp is good, but it doesn't hold a candle to fresh shrimp. Any connoisseur of shrimp knows what we are talking about. And that is what makes Texas shrimp more salable. Who wants shrimp that has been frozen several times before it reaches the marketplace?

Unfortunately, regulations are there for a purpose. We have shrimp seasons to allow the delicious species to grow. And those turtle excluder devices are necessary to ensure that sea turtles maintain their numbers. However, this problem and the cost of operating can be offset by what the Garcia family in Palacios is doing. And that is marketing and branding and creating niche businesses. They also operate the business through the whole gamut of the operation - from catching the shrimp all the way to selling it retail.

We ask if you saw shrimp at the retailer and one batch was unlabeled and one said "Texas grown," which would you pick? To get fresh, you'd choose the latter, we think.

Modern-day business tactics will save the shrimping industry for those shrimpers who become savvy enough to engage in those methods. For them, it will be a survival move.

We think this is the path Texas shrimping should take, and we praise those families who are already making those adjustments.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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