Jindal calls on AG Caldwell to investigate shrimpers' claims of collusion

By Chris Rizo | Aug 28, 2009

Buddy Caldwell (D)

NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline)-The Louisiana attorney general has been asked by the governor to investigate complaints by shrimpers who are facing historically low prices.

The shrimpers allege price-fixing and mislabeling of Louisiana shrimp. This season, shrimpers say at market they are being offered between 40 and 75 cents per pound for large shrimp, while the same shrimp at local supermarkets are fetching $3 to $4 per pound.

In a statement, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal said he wants Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to investigate the shrimpers' claims. Jindal said he's urging the attorney general to investigate two specific legal issues.

"First, we ask the A.G. to investigate the allegations that Louisiana and foreign shrimp are being mixed and sold under the label of Louisiana Shrimp. Second, we ask the A.G. to investigate allegations of price fixing," Jindal said.

The governor said that last week, state officials sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission requesting an investigation into possible violations of trade practices by foreign countries adversely affecting Louisiana's shrimping industry.

"Specifically, we are asking them to look into a possible 'dumping' situation created by processors outside the U.S.," the governor said. "This situation could be causing a decrease in what Louisiana shrimpers are being paid."

Meanwhile, the American Shrimp Processors Association wrote a letter to Jindal and Caldwell to dispute the shrimpers' price-fixing allegations.

"The worldwide recession has caused demand for luxury items, such as seafood, to drop significantly. Large amounts of shrimp imports continue to enter our borders in order to supply domestic demand," the letter said. "Low demand and high supply of both domestic and imported shrimp have forced a worldwide decline in shrimp prices, not any agreement or conspiracy by shrimp processors."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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