BELLE CHASE, La. (WGNO) – The Louisiana Shrimp Association is sounding the alarm on what they say is a growing problem, and that is the amount of shrimp being imported into the United States.

More than a dozen shrimpers met in Belle Chase Saturday to discuss the repercussions and possible solutions.

Acy Cooper serves as the president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, but first and foremost, he’s a shrimper.

“So, I’ve been doing it my whole life with my father and my grandfather,” Cooper said. “My sons all do it, so I’ve been doing it a long time.”

As Cooper spoke with fellow shrimpers Saturday afternoon, he said more than 2 billion pounds of shrimp was imported into the U.S.

“You’re only going to consume 1.5, 1.6 billion, so when it gets to a point when they bring that many shrimp in, they start taking up our storage, all the areas we normally put our shrimp in, and what that does, it just puts a damper on ours because we can’t get rid of them,” Cooper said.

During the meeting, shrimpers shared because of the influx of imported shrimp, they’re barely turning a profit.

“We started out at $4 a pound at the beginning of the year, and now we’re down to $1; 16-20 [pounds] is our largest,” Cooper said. “With these cold fronts coming, you know, the water gets cold; you start catching smaller shrimp.”

Cooper says the association is asking for tighter federal inspections on imported shrimp, as well as participation from fellow Louisiana shrimpers.

“Because if nobody does nothing, we are going to die; this industry is going to die,” Cooper said. “You’re talking about rural communities, like I said earlier, rural communities are just going to go away, so why would I want to live on the coast if there’s nothing there? That’s my living.”

The Louisiana Shrimp Task Force chairman says the public can help by buying local.

“If you can’t get to the coast, find somewhere that sells local shrimp and support us,” Cooper said. “We need help, and we need people to do the right thing. You need good seafood, not something that’s coming in from overseas.”