2,600 Violations for Louisiana’s Imported Shrimp Law Yet No Fines Issued
If we ever wanted to create a mascot for Louisiana lawmakers my suggestion would be a great big burly dog that looks really mean and nasty but this dog has no teeth and he's missing his masculine attributes from between his legs, if you know what I mean.
Because if ever there was a law that was all bark and no bite and was enforced by a neutered watchdog then Louisiana's import shrimp laws just might be the ones that would match that description best of all.
Back in 2019 the Louisiana Legislature in an attempt to placate or hush the rumblings from Louisiana's shrimping and fishing communities enacted some very tough food labeling laws. These laws were designed to make restaurants and other seafood retailers show their cards when it came to whether the products they used in their dishes and served to their customers were Louisiana products or an inferior foreign import.
And no, I don't feel as if I am besmirching the "good name" of cheap foreign imported seafood by calling it that. Studies on many samples of those seafood products from overseas have found them to contain harmful chemicals and microorganisms. None of which are part of a recommended diet. Those products are not held to the same high standards that Louisiana seafood products are held to. A lot of those regulations are the reason homegrown seafood costs a little bit more.
But studies have also shown that when given the choice, even if the price is a bit higher, consumers in Louisiana will pay a little extra for quality products sourced close to home. Hence, the food labeling law. What restaurant would want to boast "We only use cheap foreign seafood in our dishes", right?
Well here comes the toothless and lack of testicles part of the Louisiana lawmaking process. To this date, there have been some 2,600 violations of the seafood labeling laws. If you want specifics, 2,671 violations have been reported by the Louisiana Department of Health. A first-time violation is a fine of $50. So, the state should have collected at a minimum $133,550.
Guess how much revenue from those fines the state has collected?
If you guessed higher than $0 then you don't understand how the Louisiana government works or in this case doesn't work. That's right the state has collected $0 on over 2,600 fines on a program that has been in place for three years. Pardon me if I encourage my children to move away. Not only is this a farce but it's killing Louisiana Shrimpers.
Shrimpers and Louisiana's fishing families have never had it so bad. Many shrimpers are saying it's not worth the time or money to even put the boat in the water and this is how our elected officials are letting it all unfold.
If you're wondering what you can do about it there are a couple of things. You can always buy Louisiana seafood and make sure it's labeled as seafood from Louisiana. You can challenge your favorite restaurants to show you where they source their seafood. And, you can call your state representative and ask them why they want to destroy the shrimping industry, that should be a fun conversation that we all need to have.
Shrimping is a way of life in Louisiana. It would be a shame if this very unique industry succumbed to good laws that were written by spineless lawmakers and not enforced to the detriment of everyone.
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