Cold snap means fewer crawfish, higher prices ahead of Easter

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by Monica Hernandez / WWL-TV

khou.com

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 3:38 PM

NEW ORLEANS -- For many, Good Friday wouldn't be the same without crawfish. But you could pay more for mudbugs this year.

For Jimmy Cantrell, there's nothing better than being on his Lafourche Parish crawfish farm.

“It's heaven on Earth being out here,” he said on his boat.

But this year the mudbugs are scarce.

“This is the worst year in the last 15 to 20 years that I've been fishing,” said Cantrell. “The amount of crawfish we're catching is not even close to the demand.”

Cantrell said his catch is down 80 percent this year.

What accounts for the low catch? Crawfish farmers blame the recent cold snap.

“If the water is cold, they won't move and they bury themselves into the ground,” said Cantrell.

The demand for crawfish increases as we approach Good Friday and Easter. Retailers say it's one of the busiest weekends of the year.

“I probably have more sacks of live crawfish on order than I have in the last 10 to 12 years,” said Henry Poynot, owner of Big Fisherman.

So far, Big Fisherman Seafood in New Orleans has been able to keep up with the demand, selling about 4,000 pounds of crawfish so far.

But Poynot said the cold snap coupled with higher demand means he is paying suppliers more per pound, and that cost is passed on to the consumer.

Poynot said prices have spiked 75 cents a pound in the last few weeks, to $2.99 a pound live and $4.59 boiled.

Poynot said the cooler weather also means smaller mudbugs.

“As it warms up, we're going to see it [drop] at least, $1, $1.25, a pound,” he said.

The recent cooler weather isn't just impacting crawfish. Poynot said shrimp, oysters and crabs are also harder to come by.

“The wind has been blowing, we haven't had crabs in about seven days,” Poynot said.

Meanwhile, fisherman like Cantrell are hopeful they'll harvest more mudbugs once the weather warms up.

 

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