In Gulf of Mexico, supplies remain scarce

By

SeafoodSource staff

Published on
February 7, 2011

Chris Lusk is so pleased with the quality of Gulf seafood he’s bought recently for Café Adelaide in the Loews Hotel in New Orleans, the executive chef sounds borderline giddy. The oysters are briny, the shrimp coming in are good sized, and terrific snapper, drum and grouper are available in abundance, he says.

“The shrimp I’m getting are so fresh they have a blue tint to them, and the oysters are very high quality,” says Lusk. “Even just after the spill, I didn’t have a shortage of much of anything other than oysters. And those are fine now.”

Carlos Perez was happy with his December fish finds, too. The executive chef at AJ’s On The Lake in Ridgeland, Miss., struggled all summer to find good shellfish, especially oysters.

“Everything is back to normal and prices are getting better, which is perfect for the holidays,” says Perez, adding that now that the broken BP well has been plugged, guests are eating more seafood than ever. “It’s like they appreciate it more and understand how much they’d miss it if it couldn’t be here.”

The revenue brought in by commercial fishing in the five Gulf states would be missed as well. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Gulf commercial fishermen landed 1.41 billion pounds of seafood worth $614 million in 2009. And, say multiple sources interviewed, a reduction in that number is likely in 2011 with shrimp and oyster shortages occurring by late winter and spring, respectively. True, finfish appear to have initially escaped the black wrath of the now-infamous spill, but no one knows whether the spread of its inky cloud affected those fishes’ breeding grounds.

Still, even if the whole oily nightmare really has blended into the blue depths, as the U.S. government claims, and the Gulf’s scaly bounty flourishes anew, at least two serious questions remain: Will there be enough fishermen to harvest it? And will there be enough processing capacity to handle their catch?

Click here to read the rest of the feature on the Gulf of Mexico seafood industry. Written by SeaFood Business Contributing Editor Steve Coomes, the story appeared in the February issue of SeaFood Business magazine.

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