TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - Shrimp harvested in Florida waters and shipped out for human consumption literally won’t have to be put on ice any longer.
With an eye on growing Asian markets across the U.S., the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a rule change Thursday that had required shrimp harvested as food to be dead and put on ice when transported from the docks to stores.
The change clarifies that the icing requirement no longer applies to food shrimp prior to sale.
Kelly Runnels, a commercial fisherman who harvests shrimp from boats docked in Hernando Beach, told the commission that his industry views markets within Asian communities across the U.S. as very lucrative.
“From when kids go back to school until January is a very slow time. So, right now we’ll start selling to the Asian markets and it keeps us going through the fall of the year," said Runnels. "It keeps all the boats working and all of the people working.”
The “icing” rule had been considered a seafood safety measure. FWC estimates the shrimp industry in Florida has a $45.9 million economic impact annually.
“For many years, there has been a market for people to sell them live. But, it’s really just grown over the past few years," said Amanda Nalley, spokesperson for FWC.
FWC is continuing to work on changes to shrimp harvesting rules, which currently includes a prohibition on commercial harvesting on weekends and holidays during the open season.