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No Agreement Yet On Shrimp Price

April 4, 1988

NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) _ Four days into the season, Oregon shrimp fishermen have yet to settle on a price and no one appears to be in any hurry to set one, fisheries officials said today.

Processors have abundant inventories of shrimp left over from last year’s catch and bad weather over the weekend would have kept fishermen in port even if they had a price, said Mark Saelens, shellfish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

″The typical process is fishermen will not come to a settlement during a time of unsettled weather,″ said Saelens. ″They’re really in no hurry.″

When the season opened Friday, shrimp fishermen up and down the West Coast stayed in port rather than accept the going rate of about 40 cents a pound.

Neil Richmond of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Charleston said he hadn’t heard of any price settlements in California or Washington, either.

″We are hopeful it will be settled by midweek,″ said Richmond.

Shrimpers in Astoria were to meet with processors Tuesday to discuss a price, said Grant Larson, plant manager at Ocean Foods of Astoria Inc.

However, with bad weather making fishing difficult, he didn’t hold out much hope for an immediate agreement.

″I don’t see anything happening for the rest of the week,″ he said.

With a catch of 46 million pounds last year, Oregon’s fleet of 120 shrimp boats is the leading producer of pink shrimp on the West Coast. Washington’s catch was 16 million pounds and California’s was 8 million pounds.

Between 1 million and 2 million pounds of shrimp left over from last year is still on hand in cold storage, Saelens said.

″Not only do they have an inventory they have to get rid of, but the market itself is not as interested in consuming whatever grade that is they are handling,″ Saelens said.

Richmond said he had heard prices under discussion ranged between 35 cents per pound and 55 cents per pound.

″The processors feel they can’t pay what the fishermen are asking and the fishermen feel they can’t afford to go out at the price they are offering,″ Saelens said.

Last year’s price averaged 68 cents per pound, with a high of 80 cents in May brought on by strong demand.

In recent years, the value of catches has been hurt by a large number of small shrimp known as pinheads. By law, catches can’t exceed 160 shrimp per pound.

″In general, sometime in mid-summer, late June, July, the pinheads are first reaching a size when 100 percent of them will be legal,″ Saelens said.

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