blessing of the fleet

Bless These Shrimps: Faith, Fishing and Gulf Coast Restoration

Photo courtesy Bayou Grace Community Services

Fr. Frederic Brunet blessing ships. Photo courtesy Bayou Grace Community Services

Faith and fishing: two central parts of Louisiana’s vibrant coastal culture. Every April, going back generations, you can see them intersect in a celebration of bayou life at the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Chauvin, La. Families welcome the opening of the year’s first shrimp season by coming together to pray for family and friends who depend on the seafood industry, and for a healthy ecosystem that yields a bountiful catch.

“We pray for the safety and welfare of all fishermen,” said Fr. Frederic Brunet, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic church who has presided over the event for many years. “Bless the shrimp and crabs and help us to catch a lot of them.”

This year saw the second blessing since the BP Oil Spill shut down the Gulf fishing industry in 2010. Since then, many shrimpers have reported problems: poor catches and startling irregularities (such as shrimp with no eyes).

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