Deep Water Horizon - Louis Lipps


Interviewee: Louis Lipps

Role: Crabber and owner of seafood restaurant in Lake Pontchartrain, LA

Date of Interview: 3/12/12

Collection: Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster Oral History Project

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Louis Lipps, a crabber and owner of The Crab Trap Restaurant in Frenier, Louisiana, recounts his early career as a shrimper in Venice, Louisiana, entering the crabbing business, and developing that into a successful soft shell crab and restaurant operation. Mr. Lipps explains the process of creating soft shell crabs and the differences between Lake Pontchartrain and Gulf-harvested crabs.

Transcript: Well, before I opened the restaurant, I used to have 600 traps out there, and that's the way I used to catch all my shedders, and I would buy off of three or four other fishermen, buy their shedders. That's why I was doing fifteen, twenty dozen softshells a day there for a while. After Katrina, that's when I opened the restaurant, and I turned my traps over to a buddy of mine that lives right over here, and he was running them, and we did a third split, just like we do on the boats in Venice, a third, third, and a third, after expenses. I been in this restaurant, well, actually seven years. I just haven't been running, but they got a couple guys go out, two brothers. They run 350 traps a day, and they'll come with fifteen, eighteen boxes of crab, and it's usually about average sixty pounds per box. They're the two best fishermen out here. And another guy by the name of Phil Tucker. He's very good. That's the three main crabbers. My guy with 200 traps, he might run 50 or 75 a day. It's no real count I can get out of him. He doesn't do it for a living.

Now, two years ago when BP happened, yeah, the crab went up from $2.25 a pound to $3.00 a pound. Well, I had to go up on my price. The public paid for it. I mean, I make the same price regardless what I pay for it. I mark it up the same thing every time. So did it hurt me? No. In reality, it didn't. I don't think it hurt the lake at all. Well, actually, it never did actually get in the lake. They said it got in by Slidell, by the north shore. They said they had a little slick over there. Did I see it? No. Was it mentioned a lot? No. I didn't hear it mentioned a lot. I just heard it was over there. Far as hurting the business, not my business. I mean, I do top-quality, fresh stuff. You see my setup back there. I won't buy it if it's not fresh. I won't buy it if it ain't live. I won't sell it if it ain't live. I really didn't have a big effect from it. And I did start selling Dungeness crab because we had less – I can't say we had less crab, I just did it because a lot of people didn't want to pay the high price of the crab because it went up. So I did put Dungeness crab to substitute for the ones that wanted that, but this year I'm not fooling with Dungeness. We have more crab than we know what to do with this year. Because of the spillway. They opened the spillway last year. We going to have an abundance of crab this year. If somebody tell you different, they lying.

To listen to Louis's interview, click here.