February 17, 2018  

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International Business Students Gather Data for Gulf Coast Shrimp Survey

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Extensive research conducted by international business students at The University of Southern found that questions still linger about the shrimp industry along the Mississippi Gulf Coast one year after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Students in Dr. John Lambert’s MBA International Business class on the Gulf Park campus interviewed 30 businesses, including shrimpers, seafood wholesalers, seafood retailers, shrimp processors and restaurants. The 18 MBA students also surveyed more than 400 consumers, gaining their perspectives not only on loyalty to Gulf Coast shrimp, but also their acceptance of imported shrimp.

“These students did an excellent job reaching out into the business community,” said Lambert. “These students went on the front lines of the Gulf shrimp supply chain. “During the interview process, they came face-to-face with perspectives ranging from satisfaction to frustration.”

Lambert noted that three significant issues surfaced during the research project that took place in June and July.

  • The trust factor:“Both business managers and consumers have real doubts about the information that they are receiving,” said Lambert. “This doubt is about information from both government and private sources.”
  • Safety concerns:“The consumers are incredibly loyal to the shrimpers and to the industry, but there is a concern out there,” said Lambert.
  • Shrimpers suffering most:“Based upon the information from our interviews, the shrimpers seem to be recovering slower than anyone else,” said Lambert. “That, combined with low dockside prices for their catches and high fuel costs, makes life for them difficult,” said Lambert.

MBA candidate Mark Lemaire of Lafayette, La., said discovering first-hand how the oil spill affected the Gulf Coast shrimp industry was both “eye-opening and sobering.”

“The depth and breadth of this study, one year after one of the worst manmade disasters in history, brought back all the importance that was emphasized during the height of last year’s disaster,” said Lemaire, who added that he will continue to eat seafood from the Gulf.