Hurricane Michael impacts seafood supply, hits some harder than others
Hurricane Michael, which tore through the Florida, U.S.A. panhandle on 10 October, has impacted some seafood wholesalers and suppliers in the area more than others.
The fast-moving Category 4 hurricane hit the hardest in Franklin County, between the areas of Mexico Beach and St. Marks. Maximum sustained winds of 155 miles-per-hour, just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, leveled buildings, including some seafood businesses.
In Apalachicola, 13 Mile Seafood Market, a distributor and wholesaler of everything from gulf shrimp to oysters, “reduced to shambles” according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
“It all happened so fast,” 13 Mile Seafood co-owner Dee Cook said. “It got worse than everybody expected. Nobody, none of us saw this coming. None of us thought we would see something like this.”
Deborah Long, of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, said her organization is still trying to get in contact with some of the organization’s members in the area. The status of Wood’s Fisheries, in Port St. Joe, is still unknown, she said.
“I have not been able to get through for any information there,” Long told SeafoodSource.
Likely due to the storm, phone calls to the business results in a busy signal.
The same is true of other businesses in the area. Leavins Seafood, and Raffield Fisheries, as well, couldn’t be reached by phone.
According to Long, hurricanes aren’t a new disturbance for the industry, and those not directly impacted will have already made preparations.
“Hurricanes happen every season for this industry. They are accustomed to major disturbances, and they help each other out quite a bit,” she said. “A lot of people prior to the storm move out of the way, if they can.”
For some fishermen, riding out the storm on their boat is the best option for protecting their investments. “A lot of times because so much of their life’s worth is tied up in the value of the boat, they will stay aboard that ship through the storm.”
Some wholesalers have seen relatively little impact. Joe Patti’s Seafood Company in Pensacola, Florida, got through the storm unscathed.
“We haven’t been getting effected here,” an employee told SeafoodSource.
The hurricane will still have some impacts on supply. Brad Yellock, who works in Inland Seafood's Birmingham, Alabama facility, told the local Fox News affiliate that he expects costs to increase.
“We could see some pricing increases in your market right after this. It’s a supply and demand thing,” Yellock said. “If you're in the mood for Gulf seafood this weekend, you may not see some of your favorite items on the menu.”