Bait Market Possible Venue for Commercial Shrimpers, Fishermen
BATON ROUGE –
Some Louisiana inshore shrimpers and fishermen squeezed by
current economic conditions are increasing their profits by
marketing some of their catch as live bait to recreational
anglers, according to a recent survey by Louisiana Sea Grant.
conditions dictating low profitability, it is inevitable that
some fishermen and shrimpers will use their hard-won fishing
experience to provide a value-added aspect to their catch
– live bait,” said Rex Caffey, associate professor
for wetlands and coastal resources at the Louisiana State
University Agricultural Center and Louisiana Sea Grant.
The survey found
shrimp, croakers and cocahoe minnows to be the most popular
live baits with the state’s recreational fishermen.
Survey respondents indicated they are willing to pay up to
four times the market value of some baits – specifically
croakers – in order to guarantee a successful fishing
trip. Caffey refers to this as “trip insurance.”
prices went as high as $1 per bait for croakers,” said
Caffey. “Apparently, these bait fish have a reputation
that precedes them in the fishermen’s world.”
Only 4 percent
of survey respondents said bait price was a significant limiting
factor when it comes to their fishing excursions. “You
just got up at 3:39 a.m., invested $200 in supplies and fuel,
made excuses all week to get to fish … who cares what
the bait cost as long as you don’t have to go home empty-handed,”
said Rusty Gaude, Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent. “This
triggers the idea that at 5 a.m., on the edge of civilization
at your bait retailer’s store, the cost of the bait
is relatively unimportant compared to its availability.”
part of the commercial catch for live bait can be profitable,
shrimpers and fishermen need to put in additional effort to
ensure their product remains alive.
harvesters are not accustomed to walking the fine line between
their catch being live bait or frozen seafood,” said
Caffey. “Not only does the live bait have to make it
to the onshore holding facility, endure the transfer from
several containers to the final bait well, but the individual
baits must appear lively not only to the angler but –
ultimately – the angler’s prey.”
Care and holding
of live bait was noted as a major concern by survey respondents.
The survey was
part of a national Sea Grant initiative to guide research
and extension programming for the coastal bait industry in
the northern Gulf of Mexico. Previously, no definitive survey
of the Louisiana coastal bait industry had been conducted.
The 500 survey respondents included individuals from the supply
side of the live bait industry, as well as recreational fishermen.
Surveys were conducted face-to-face and online.
of the anglers surveyed fish in marsh and coastal areas, and
most of their fishing activity takes place between the beginning
of May and the end of September.
The live bait sector
in Louisiana is a $40 million business, according to the National
Marine Fisheries Service. Louisiana Sea Grant continues to
support the coastal bait industry with programs and publications
geared to helping all aspects of the industry.
Since its establishment
in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant has worked to promote stewardship
of the state’s coastal resources through a combination
of research, education and outreach programs critical to the
cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s
coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at Louisiana State
University, is part of the National Sea Grant Program, a network
of 30 programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes
states and Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands.