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Growing oil blob threatens shrimpers

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  • | 2:20 p.m. May 7, 2010
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Beachfront hoteliers aren't the only ones worried about the expanding oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The area affected by the recent oil spill is one of the prime shrimp-fishing grounds for commercial fishing companies such as Erickson & Jensen Seafood Packers in Fort Myers Beach.

The company has a fleet of 12 shrimp boats and its captains usually head to the affected area at this time of year, says Grant Erickson, owner and manager of the company. “That spill is offshore where we would be dragging,” he says. “It's right in the middle of the best shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico, so it's not good.”

Erickson is certified as an oil-spill responder. “We have contacted BP and told them what we have to offer and if we can help them clean it up we'll be happy to help. It's a huge mess they got going on there,” he says.

Erickson says reliable information on the oil spill is hard to come by. “What's the truth? I don't know, but it can't be good,” he says. “That whole plume of crude is going to go ashore somewhere. It'll be devastating for that inshore area.”

Fortunately, the Gulf of Mexico is a big place and his offshore fishing boats can shrimp in other areas, such as in the Tortugas where most of them are now. Indeed, the Gulf is a big place made even bigger by the fact that many of Erickson's competitors have gone out of business in recent years.

Ironically, Erickson says his most pressing concern now is the rapidly rising price of diesel fuel, which cut deeply into profits because shrimp are cheap and plentiful.

So while fuel prices keep rising, expanding drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is likely a dead idea for while.


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