The red tide crisis is hitting home for Pasco County shrimpers.
They worry their way of life could be coming to an end.
With dead fish washing ashore by the truckload, the demand for bait shrimp is shrinking.
It comes down to a drop in demand. Bait shops aren’t buying bait shrimp in the red tide zones.
And sport fishermen are staying away.
That means, they’re not buying what fishermen catch.
The shrimp is not the kind you see on your plate, it’s the kind other fishermen use to catch fish.
“If we can’t sell, then that’s it right there” said fisherman Walter Kimley.
Lately, shrimp buyers are reducing their orders.
“Right now, it’s kind of rough with the red tide. It’s bad out there. It is. And if it comes up this way more, if it comes up this way more, it’s gonna put us out of business,” said Kimley.
Area shrimpers gathered in Port Richey to plot a strategy to survive this latest calamity.
“We don’t want to be rich. We just want to be able to make a living,” said Diane McMahon, owner of Aquatic Visions.
The plan is to ask for assistance as the red tide menace drags on.
“We’re hoping that Governor Scott will help us. We do not need loans of 180 days. We need to be compensated for our losses,” said McMahon.
Many blame the red tide for smaller catches, even though it hasn’t been detected in the Port Richey area.
“I took a delivery up for 9,000 shrimp, and out of that 9,000, there’s 3,400 dead. And that’s a lot,” said Walter Kimley.
“We’re really hurting pretty bad now. No orders. Your tackle shops, all your sport fishermen” said fisherman Jeff Ward.
Many shrimpers fear it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.