Texas shrimp team aids fishermen, earns AgriLife Extension Superior Service Award

COLLEGE STATION  — Ten professionals who joined forces to help shrimp fishermen cope with competition from imported seafood have received the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s 2012 Superior Service Award in the team category.

The annual Superior Service Awards recognize AgriLife Extension personnel who provide outstanding performance in Extension education or in service to the organization. The team includes people with joint appointments in AgriLife Extension and Texas Sea Grant’s Extension Program.

According to the nomination, the team has helped Texas shrimp fishermen earn $9 million through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which provides money to participants in industries that can document that they have been injured by imports. The amount of money per fisherman is relatively small, up to $12,000, but the program requires fishermen participate in training that teaches them how to make their operations run more efficiently.

“For shrimp fishermen reeling from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, high fuel prices and increased competition from imports, the cash benefits have been a godsend,” said Logan Respess, Texas Sea Grant’s Extension program leader. “At best, this ‘found money’ provided a modest, short-term boost to their businesses, but the intensive training they received will ensure the future success of the wild-shrimp fishery.”

The team includes seafood specialist Michael Haby, marine fisheries specialist Gary Graham, environmental quality specialist  Russ Miget and aquaculture specialist Granvil Treece; Extension agents Terrie Looney, Chambers/Jefferson counties; Julie K. Massey, Galveston County; John O’Connell, Brazoria County; Rhonda Cummins, Calhoun County; Tony Reisinger, Cameron County; and Ginger Easton Smith, Aransas County

Haby developed the original document that allowed 5,500 commercial shrimp fishermen from the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic to apply for the assistance, according to the nomination. Haby and the rest of the team provided training and other activities fishermen needed to meet the requirements. The team’s effort was adopted as a regional project by the Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Region, which includes the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi-Alabama and Florida Sea Grant Programs.

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