Crawfish Biz Dying

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 6:33pm

Lent starts Wednesday and that means crawfish will be in high demand, but for the people who bring the mudbugs to the table, times keep getting tougher.

As the parades peter out and the beads become just another memory it’s time to turn to the next Louisiana tradition: crawfish season. But, workers like Willie Granger have already been thinking about the mudbugs for months. “You’ve got to look for the certain conditions that’s favorable for them at the time.”

Granger’s been looking for those conditions since he was a teenager. But each year, he says the catch gets a little more difficult, especially as more crawfish flood the market. “Some seasons, the price is so low, that you have to catch so much to get ahead, the expense is high, you wear on your equipment, everything is rough.”

Another big hurdle a lot of the fishermen face are banks that are man made. The low water means smaller crawfish and less area for trapping. Granger says the environment has changed because of ill drilling and plants using water power upstream. “We all feel that the control, man controls those locks so much, to allow so little bit of water. For what reason?”

Then there’s property rights. Disputes continue over who owns the land and who decides what changes can come along. But, amidst it all, Granger just wants folks to know, the fishermen feel like they’re working for the people in the Pelican State. “We’re here for a living, we’re here for you and your family, it’s a great place, so spend your money on what works for you.”

It is a long-time Cajun tradition trying to keep pace with today’s changing world.

So far for this season, fishermen and farmers say the outlook for crawfish hasn’t been great. Some researchers say it’s one of the slowest start-offs they’ve seen in years.