Roger Manning is the second-generation owner of Fishing Jim Seafood in the New Orleans area of Louisiana. Manning’s seafood company catches blue crab from the Gulf and distributes the product around the country.
Louisiana has 7,721 miles of shoreline, where fresh and salt water mix and provide the perfect habitat for the blue crab. And the state is the number one domestic supplier of blue crab in the nation. Forty-five million pounds of blue crab are landed in an average year, with an estimated $53 million dockside value. The blue crab fishery is the first and only to be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
How did you get into the business?
I’ve been doing it for 45 years. I started with my dad, who was a shrimp fisherman. We used to call him the original Forrest Gump. I started fishing at eight years old. It was hard work. I did not like getting up 3:30 am. At the age of nine, I started driving my dad’s truck to haul shrimp from the mouth of the bayou to various markets. And at 18, I went on my own. My son now manages the plant and the production, and maybe one of these days I can retire.
Where did the name Fishing Jim Seafood come from?
Well, it’s kind of funny. My dad’s name was John, but he changed it to Jim. And even though I go by Roger, my first name is actually James. So there you have it.
What’s the market for blue crab?
Blue crab is more of a specialty product in the U.S. We ship a lot of product to California and the Pacific NW. The season is typically spring and early summer.
What’s your relationship with Alaska Air Cargo?
I’ve used them on and off over the years. And I’m using them more lately to ship product to the West Coast. With blue crab, you’ve got to keep the product refrigerated and make sure there’s no problems on long flights. Alaska assured me they have the newest and best equipment for that, and after using them, I’m in full agreement. They take care of our product and I have lots of people I can call for help if I need it. Michael Yu, regional sales manager, keeps me informed about the expanded flights. That’s typical with Alaska. They are great with customer service; they really communicate well–everyone from the director to the call center folks. They are very helpful, and they go the extra mile for me.