A Shrimper's Rant Against Rising Fuel Prices

By Ratha Tep Posted April 17, 2008

As gas prices continue to soar, one group getting heightened attention is truckers (at the Democratic debate in Philadelphia last night, Senator Hillary Clinton name dropped some truckers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania). But an often neglected group whose livelihood also depends on fuel is fishermen. I recently talked to Larry Kellum, a shrimper operating—or not operating, as you'll see below—out of Carteret County in North Carolina:

On not shrimping "I’m 54, and started shrimping when I was 14. I grew up in it and love the work. But now it's the worst year I’ve seen. I could have said that each year for the last seven or eight years but it gets worse each year with rising fuel prices and imports coming in to drive down the price of shrimp. It’s a bad situation to be in. But I’ve been doing it for so long I hate to give up. At this time of year, I should be shrimping for a month already, but I haven't shrimped at all. A lot of shrimpers I know have tied their boats up and have gotten other jobs. Or they try to sell their boats but no one wants them because the price of fuel is so high."

On the exact math "If I just had to worry about $50 or $60 a week to fill my car, it wouldn't be that bad. Three-and-a-half to four years ago, I could fill my boat with fuel for $200. But it takes me $800 to $1000 to fill my boat now and that only lasts me five days. If I had that money, I wouldn’t need to work."

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