EconSouth Explores Southeastern Fishing

The Southeast's diverse fishing industry not only is woven into the traditions of many coastal communities, but also is an important source of jobs and revenues for the region. But now the industry—one of the nation's oldest—is under pressure from a number of sources. In "Southeastern Fishing Faces Strong Currents," featured in the first quarter 2010 issue of EconSouth, staff writer Lela Pratte explores the challenges facing the industry.

Fierce competition from low-priced imported seafood is a significant trouble spot, writes Pratte. The United States imports more than 80 percent of its seafood. Much of it comes from fish farming, a growing industry that involves much lower overhead costs than domestic wild harvesting. The cheaper imports suppress the price domestic fishermen receive for their catch, and, as a result, they are struggling to break even.

The Southeastern shrimping industry provides perhaps no better example of this pricing pressure, Pratte writes. Over the past decade, shrimp imports have steadily increased while the price of shrimp has fallen by as much as $3 per pound.

Despite these and other challenges, the Southeastern fishing industry sees at least one bright spot, writes Pratte: the recession's impact on consumers' discretionary income has led more people to take up fishing as a hobby.

Be sure to read the entire story, now available online, to learn more about the threats to its long-standing business model that the Southeastern fishing industry is struggling to overcome.