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Arctic freeze expected to reduce crawfish numbers

Experts say with fewer crawfish on the market, prices are going to skyrocket.

NEW ORLEANS — Crawfish are a Louisiana staple, but this cold spell could reduce crawfish numbers and that will drive prices up.

As the cold makes its way toward us, crawfish are starting to hunker down. Mark Shirley from LSU Ag Center says the cold doesn’t kill them, it just makes them lethargic.

“It's already started off to be a slow season as far as the catch of crawfish as of this November/December," Shirley said. “When it's cold like this the crawfish don’t move too much, they’re a cold-blooded animal that just settles to the bottom of the pond, they don’t move they don’t feed, so farmers can't catch them when they get real cold.”

“Typically when water temperatures get down in the 40s or even into the 30s the catch drops off dramatically.”

He says the freezing temperatures will delay harvest by a couple of weeks. So what does that mean for you? 

With less crawfish out and about for fishermen to catch, there will be less on supermarket shelves, and the fewer the crawfish the higher the price.

“Besides not catching a whole lot of crawfish at this time the issue is their bait, the labor, all their expenses, have gone up and it's costing them a lot more to produce this crawfish,” Shirley said.

That price hike is being passed on to consumers. So for those who want to enjoy a crawfish boil or a pot of etouffee, the advice is to start cooking now.

“If you want some boiled crawfish to get to those places, restaurants, drive-throughs early because they are not going to have a big supply day to day.”

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