Support our shrimpers

It is called “Le Vent de Carême” — the wind of Lent.

It has already started to blow.

It does not necessarily mean a lot in many places. But here, in the Bayou Region, there is special significance.

Before the Weather Channel and before the Internet and a lot of other conveniences, the shifting of the wind meant it was time to hurry mending nets and getting the trawl boards ready.

The time had come for a new year of catching shrimp and making a living.

In Dulac and Dularge, Chauvin and Isle de Jean Charles, the work began in earnest. Eggs had moved into the protected nursery waters and the bigger shrimp were going to start heading down through the protective estuary toward the Gulf of Mexico.

In many of those same communities throughout the coming month there will be boat blessings. These are blessings of each community’s fleet, with prayers for a bountiful season. Also prayed for is the safety of all and that the equipment should operate as designed.

Very often the latter has a lot to do with how things go with the former.

The fisheries of Louisiana are a vital part of the state’s economy. They provide jobs, income and tax revenue, but they also generate innovations that protect our coastlines and help keep our waters pristine.

One out of every 70 jobs in Louisiana is related to the seafood industry, which as a whole has an economic impact of over $2.4 billion annually for Louisiana. Many of these jobs are in family-owned-and-operated companies that have worked for generations to bring the finest seafood to the tables of the world.

The shrimp industry accounts for 15,000 jobs and an annual impact of $1.3 billion for Louisiana.

We mention this because while oil and gas are indeed vital industries locally, seafood overall and shrimp in particular are part of a big business.

Look at the boats lined up on local bayous and know that some of these have sent children to college. Look at the boats and realize that they have had a lot to do with growth spurts at various times of our local history.

We believe most people have the message that local seafood must be supported. We believe most people here know that when you go to a restaurant you should ask them where their shrimp comes from, as well as other seafood. But a few more eateries on Martin Luther King Boulevard serving shrimp from Louisiana is not going to save the seafood industry. Spirit will, however.

Each man and woman in this fishery must know that the work he or she does is respected amd appreciated.

It’s part of how we got into a mess here.

There was a very real belief among local fishers that they were not supported, back when the prices began to drop and even before then. This belief knocked the wind out of a lot of people. They began to not care. And a lot of them sold their boats.

None of that was a very good thing.

This year, as every year, there are blessings of the commercial fleets of Chauvin, Dulac, Pointe Aux Chenes and Dularge.

We advise that as many people as possible go. Take some time to maybe visit one of these communities that you have not been to before. The details regarding dates are in this issue.

Go. Cheer. Wave. Let a fishing family know that you care.

And while you are at it stop at one of the docks.

By the time the blessings roll around in April, many boats will be fishing in federal waters as they await word on when the May season is opening.

If you don’t see a boat selling their catch then see if one of the docks will.

It’s one of the benefits of living here on the Cajun Coast.

And in the process you will be making sure everybody in the industry knows that you care. It’s a currency that can go a long way.