Seafood products landed in Bayou La Batre have a dockside value that averages more than $30 million annually. Shrimp is the mainstay of the Bayou La Batre commercial fishery and historically has provided more than 90 percent of the value of all seafood products landed. Oysters, crabs, and finfish are also taken by Bayou La Batre fishermen. It is estimated that commercial seafood landings in Bayou La Batre alone have an economic impact on the state that normally ranges between $90 and $l00 million annually.
However, the dockside value of Alabama landings do NOT begin to tell the complete story. Alabama seafood processors are among the most progressive and highly regarded seafood firms in the nation. Because of this relatively large seafood processing sector, many processors rely heavily upon seafood landed in other areas and trucked into the state. Foreign-produced shrimp is also imported for further processing. Many major processors frequently send trucks into other states to bring products back to Alabama and routinely buy seafood from fishermen and dealers in states as distant as Texas and Virginia.
Based on the best information available, approximately 80 percent of the shrimp, crabs, and oysters processed in Alabama are brought in from other states or nations. Bayou La Batre processors add a substantial amount to the value of the products they process. When this fact is considered in combination with the economic impact on the state derived from seafood landings, the total annual economic impact of the commercial seafood industry is estimated to be in excess of $400 million. Much of the additional worth associated with Bayou La Batre's seafood industry results from value added to seafood by cleaning, heading, picking, shucking, grading, breading, packaging, frozen storage, and transportation.
Seafood landings and seafood from out-of-state support over 50 Bayou La Batre processing plants that provide employment for some 1500 year-round personnel and approximately 800 additional seasonal workers. Not all of the seafood landed or trucked into Alabama is processed, some is simply packed, repacked, or wholesaled. Some 15 packing houses and wholesale seafood dealers employ an additional 400 seasonal and year-round workers.