Tuesday, July 06, 2010

How the BP Oil Spill Affects the Seafood Industry

Those living in the south have for years enjoyed getting fresh seafood year around. Since the BP oil spill in April that has changed dramatically. The Gulf of Mexico provides 67% of the U.S. oyster supply. Louisiana is the country's top producer of shrimp and oysters which ships out 30% of the seafood in 48 states. More than 80% of all seafood purchased in the US is imported most of which is farm raised. Fishing, shrimping and harvesting oysters has been banned in the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil spill has caused a decrease in the supply of seafood and an increase in costs. Since the supply has been decreased, oysters have been obtained from other areas but cost more. The oil spill has caused supply that was locally bought to now be sold out of state causing some suppliers to use frozen seafood instead of fresh seafood.

This has caused unemployment for many fishermen, processing plans, seafood markets, grocery stores and restaurants. Some oysters have been removed from the menus in New Orleans and surrounding area restaurants.

Some fish packing houses in Virginia get their oysters from the Gulf of Mexico which due to the oil spill supply has decreased by 60%. Oyster prices of seafood retailers have increased and in some cases have doubled in price. Shrimp prices have also increased.
In North Carolina, vendors are estimating that prices of mackerel may increase up to 300% or $20 a pound by the end of this summer.

Effects of the oil spill have even reached our nation's capital, Washington DC. Some restaurants will increase their raw bar surcharge by up to $3, especially for restaurants that promote Cajun, Louisiana dishes or Gulf seafood.

Some restaurants have not been affected and are still able to maintain their seafood supply but the scare of the oil spill has caused some consumers to skip going out to eat. Many seafood restaurants near the Gulf of Mexico and surroundings areas have had to change their menus and offer items such as steak, chicken and beef instead of seafood.

Oyster prices from the Gulf Mexico have jumped to $55-$80 a gallon. In Mississippi, prices for oysters and shrimp vary daily. The price of shrimp has jumped from $4.99 to $5.99 a pound and oysters have jumped fro $15.99 to $18.99 a pound. Fisheries off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are closed while some off the coast of Texas and Florida remain open.

Some shrimp boat captains are leasing their boats to BP to help clean up the oil spill which is also a reason why less shrimp are being harvested.

Hopes remains for the seafood retailers who can get their supply from the Northern states such as Alaska and Boston. Consumers will also have to be concerned about price-gouging by vendors trying to take advantage of the oil spill. The oil spill will affect the seafood industry for many years. The shrimp and oyster harvest for next year is may already be damaged.

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