Florida shrimpers have a little spring in their step Tuesday as the feds sign off on a new tariff for shrimp imports.
Shrimpers call it a major victory, but some warn it could increase prices at restaurants and markets.
Jim Lycett has been in the shrimp business for 30 years. He's watched a lot of his colleagues bail out as imports lowered the boom on prices.
"The vast amount of shrimp consumed in this country is imported. I've seen our prices almost halve in the last three years."
There’s word this week out of Washington that the Department of Commerce has just signed off on a new schedule of tariffs on shrimp imports from Brazil, Ecuador, India, and Thailand, increasing penalties from one to 58 percent. Bob Jones has been fighting for the tariffs for years, saying those countries have literally been "dumping" shrimp on the US market.
"Is this really going to make a difference to shrimpers who are out there 10, 30 days at a time?"
"Sure it is because it's going to level the playing field as far as prices that are in the market when they get back."
Shrimpers say prices should be on rise again soon thanks to the new tariffs. But that's exactly what many restaurants and distributors fear, that consumers will be forced to pay higher prices at markets and restaurants.
Shrimper Jim Lycett is getting the Pirate's Son ready for a run to the Keys. He says while he's smiling a little wider now, the tariffs will not be a cure-all.
"We have many other fundamentals from fuel to the number of boats to regulations that impact our industry, and while it's welcome, it's not the savior of the shrimp industry."
A spokesman for a coalition of restaurants and distributors fighting the tariffs says consumers will see higher shrimp prices in a matter of months and may see fewer shrimp entrees on restaurant menus.
There’s one more hearing in January, then and the tariffs will be final.
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