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Crawfish prices remain inflated

Crawfish are pricier than usual this time of year, but the cost should come down as temperatures warm up. Peeled crawfish tails were selling for $16-$18 a pound at Louisiana grocery stores Friday, about $2-3 higher than this time a year ago.

The same goes for live crawfish, which were locally priced around $2.75 a pound Friday.

Lingering winter weather is partly to blame, as chilly temperatures have kept crawfish in the mud at the bottom of Acadiana's crawfish ponds and waterways.

That means fewer crawfish are making their ways to local seafood markets and grocery stores, and fewer are being peeled because of price resistance at nearly $20 a pound.

"A lot of people are shocked about the prices. A lot of them are saying they'll wait until it goes down," said Gabby Fruge, assistant manager at Adrien's in Lafayette. "But at the same time, we're not losing any crawfish, because they're buying it as soon as we get it in."

The limited supply has been an issue for some, including Glynn Breaux, owner of Penny Saver Seafood Market in Lafayette.

Breaux said he sold more than 15,000 pounds of live crawfish on Good Friday last year.

This year, he figures he'll be lucky if he can get half that.

"The cold weather has kept them from catching as much as they normally would," said Wally Breaux, manager of Breaux's Mart in Lafayette. "And then we have a cold front coming through this weekend, so that'll put a damper on them again."

Crawfish thrive in water temperatures in the mid-60s, said LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist Mark Shirley.

The good news is it's just a matter of time before the weather warms up, Shirley said.

When it does, rain and snow melt from the upper Mississippi River will be diverted into the Atchafalaya Basin, giving fishermen access to more crawfish.

Residents and retailers hope the added supply will arrive in time to lower prices in two weeks.

Crawfish boils are an Easter tradition for many local families, with Good Friday and Easter Sunday typically accounting for one-third of April crawfish sales, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry."

For now, people are willing to pay the price for crawfish, but restaurants and seafood dealers wonder how long that will last.

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