Texas Shrimp Industry Lacks Willing U.S. Workers

Aug 6, 2018

NOT ENOUGH WORKERS - About 10% of the Texas shrimping fleet remains in port due to a lack of workers according to the Texas Shrimp Association.
Credit Courtesy: Texas Shrimp Association.

TEXAS SHRIMP SEASON:  And if you like to eat shrimp…this story may interest you.   It’s two weeks in the Shrimp Season  and  Texas shrimpers are dealing with another worker shortage.   Last year about 20% of the Texas Shrimp fleet stayed in Port from a lack of workers.   Andrea Hance is Executive Director of the Texas Shrimp Association based in Brownsville.  She told The Texas Standard  that  about 8 to 10 percent of the state’s shrimp boats are still tied up at docks.  

“And those boat owners or captains what happened to them is they don’t have enough people to even man the boat, um, so they may only have one other person, well, the boat needs at least three to go out and efficiently operate.”                     

Andrea Hance, Executive Director for the Texas Shrimp Association - Brownville, Texas.
Credit Courtesy: Texas Shrimp Association

Hance  says  the Shrimp industry relies  on  seasonal foreign workers to staff their boats because it’s hard to find American workers with the experience and even the desire to do this type of work. 

“That U.S. Citizen that has never been on a fishing vessel before that wants off the boat immediately, we have to turn that boat around, travel all the way back to the dock and lift the person off the boat.”  

According to the Texas Shrimp Association – for the 2017 Shrimping Season , 64 percent of American citizens hired wanted to get off the boat within 2 days.  

LOSING MONEY - According to statistics, for every day a shrimp boat remains in port, it loses about $4,000 a day.
Credit Courtesy: Texas Shrimp Association

The industry relies heavily on seasonal, foreign employees,  who can legally work on American Shrimp boats if they get an H-2B visa,  but for some reason those visas are in short supply this season.