MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The winds from Hurricane Ian devastated dozens of shrimping trawlers in southwest Florida. The fishermen who rely on those boats for their livelihoods are now scrambling to get back in the Gulf of Mexico.
Shrimp from Fort Myers Beach is shipped all over the country, meaning this will have a big impact on production and demand.
Inside the Cortez Historic Fishing Village, you’ll find Karen Bell. Bell is a part owner at A.P. Bell Fishing Company, which is a wholesale seafood dealer.
Further south, Bell has seen the devastation.
“I’ve seen those big steel hulls up in the parking lot and if you see those boats in person you realize how mammoth they are,” she said. “They’re 100-foot some of them. It looks like some of them were picked up like blocks and thrown in the parking lot.”
Dozens of shrimping boats in Fort Myers are stacked in a marina and one was seen toppled on a building.
“I honestly haven’t been able to get through some of the people I know to find out what are they going to do… I doubt that they have insurance,” Bell said.
Seafood companies are working to get the trawlers back into the gulf as soon as possible.
“The seafood demand will increase because there’s less of it being produced out of the gulf.”
It could lead to you paying more for seafood. Shrimping leads Florida’s seafood industry. State statistics show in 2016, it was valued at $52 million. Bell said it’s not just shrimping that is taking a hit, it’s also grouper and stone crabs.