Valley Shrimpers: 'Buy Local'

More than 5,000 people visited this year TMs World Championship Shrimp Cook Off in Port Isabel.

In addition to the competition, the event also encouraged visitors to shop local when it comes to this Valley staple, according to organizers.

"This event was started 16 years ago to honor and celebrate our sea food products," said Betty Wells, President of the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce.

The reason for the encouragement of local shrimp sales is the declining business for local shrimpers, Calvin Byrd said. "This has been an ongoing thing that's been happening for a few years. Prices decreases, regulation increasing so the shrimps and really struggling to be able to make ends meet."

Byrd has been in the shrimping business for years.

He said that in addition to lowering prices for shrimp, overregulation and imports of shrimp from other countries are making it increasingly hard for local shrimpers to compete.

"It TMs been very, very difficult, a lot of them have had to seek other jobs," he added. Ultimately, the shirmping industry in the Valley needs to change their current strategy and follow the trend of other food products like beef and poultry, Byrd said.

"We need to market the product to the public, number for its flavor, he said. But just as importantly, this is freshly caught, it has no chemicals." He added that this strategy might not make Port Isabel the capital of world shrimp again, but it can at least help sustain an important part of the Valley's history and economy.

The winners of this year TMs Cook off are:

Amateur: 3rd place: Cuevas Trawlers2nd place: Beatriz Zapata1st place: Re/Max First Choice

Professional: 3rd place: Cap'N Roys, South Padre Island2nd place: Parrot Eyes, South Padre Island1st place: Las Olas, South Padre Island