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SWFL shrimpers say they have not seen money through CARES Act

Fishermen in Southwest Florida are struggling to make ends meet. Many of them who look for shrimp say they were supposed to get money through the CARES Act but haven’t seen the money yet.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance is asking the federal government for its share of CARES Act money.

A local shrimper told us the coronavirus pandemic is his biggest struggle currently, with the shrimp selling for so cheap.

Dennis Henderson, a shrimper and owner of TRICO Shrimp Company, says, just like for everyone during COVID-19, it has been a struggle.

“Probably 80% of the fleet from Brownsville to Alabama got shut down,” Henderson said.

This caused disruptions to the seafood supply chains, and, as restaurants closed, seafood products and prices began to decrease.

“We’ve had some pretty good catches, but the shrimp are so small,” Henderson said. “And, the smaller the shrimp, the less it’s worth. The price is so low, you get $2 a pound, sometimes only a dollar.”

Henderson says sometimes their catch doesn’t even pay for fuel.

“I think it really speaks to how deep the issue of a health crisis really hits,” Robert Mousselli said. “It’s more than just a virus. It really speaks to how it goes into the economy and goes into what we eat.”

Seafood lovers are surprised and worried for the shrimpers. But, so far, Henderson says they haven’t seen any money from the CARES Act to help.

“We haven’t seen it, but 300 mils, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it,” Henderson said. “But honestly it’s not enough for the whole fishing industry. It’s not going to go very far.”

For now, they will keep doing their job the best they can.

“We’ll keep sending the boats out 6:30,” Henderson said. “We hope the price goes up.”

NOAA is conducting a survey to assess the impacts COVID-19 has on the fishing industry. The shrimpers told us there is no telling when they would get the money or how much they will receive.

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