La. seafood industry struggling during pandemic; business owners hope to see relief soon

Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 4:28 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana’s commercial fishermen are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, but they now have the option to apply for assistance from the CARES Act.

WAFB’s Breanne Bizette spoke with seafood businesses about how demand for the product has gone down.

Since the start of the pandemic, fewer people are eating out at local seafood restaurants. Restaurants are restricted on how many people can dine at once, meaning fewer people are eating those delicious seafood platters.

Fishermen who sell their catch to restaurants are feeling the pressure.

“I think the price has to come down because if you don’t have sales you can’t just keep a price at a level that there’s no sale for,” says Al Sunseri who is the co-owner of P&J’s Oyster Company.

Sunseri explains that business has been hard because restaurants are unable to operate at full capacity. So, fishermen aren’t seeing a high demand for a crab, shrimp, or oysters.

However, local seafood restaurants are eager to get back to serving their full menu to normal size crowds.

“I want to see all restaurants do good. It going to 75% is great, but you…100% whenever everything is better. So, hopefully, that’s soon…everybody will be at full capacity. Everybody will be back doing good again,” says Mike Anderson Jr. who owns Mike Anderson’s Seafood.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is now stepping in to try and help these commercial fishermen secure funding made available from the CARES Act.

“Business is not up to par, so the industries have been having a hard time getting their products out to folks,” says Jason Duet who is the biologist director for LDWF.

Struggling seafood businesses can apply to receive financial help from the CARES Act to keep them afloat until restaurants start serving more seafood.

If you are interested in applying for financial assistance from the CARES Act, click here.

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