Notes on the Gulf Coast

Just got a call from some contacts down south. The Oil tide from this BP rig are really making people worried all along the gulf coast. Shrimp season just started, and now it’s abruptly ending. To some this is just an ecological disaster, which it rightly and catastrophically is. But there’s another side, of course. For people who fish, bait or trap along the gulf, this isn’t ‘bad’. It’s downright apocalyptic.

The blowout comes at a particularly bad time for the shrimp industry, coinciding with the very start of the season as shrimp stocks make their way from estuaries out to sea.~source

The news comes as a second major blow to an industry already punch drunk from five years ago when Hurricane Katrina…well, does anyone actually need to be reminded?NPR weighed in at the time with shrimp fisherman George Barisich’sefforts to revitalize his industry. According to Barisich, the price of diesel fuel was rising and the price of shrimp falling…

“the shrimp he caught sold for less than they did 20 years ago.~source

That may change, as the BP disaster threatens the gulf coast shrimp industry. Time tells of a fisherman named De La Cruz hoping to sell a $10 per pound batch of shrimp that’d normally go for $3.50. But even De La Cruz is far from happy with the solution to this problem.

“Look at these pretty shrimp. You can’t get no better than that. But after this spill,” he says, “you won’t find them around here, anymore.”~source

Higher shrimp and oyster prices are coming, and this is where it jumps industries.

He’s particularly concerned about shrimp and oysters because they are two key items that come out of the Gulf Coast waters. He said he sees the possibility of the wild caught shrimp he gets from those waters will not be available at all, depending on the spread of the oil slick.~source

The subject of the quote owns a seafood restaurant in Portland. His conclusion is “pass it on to the consumers” because really he has no other option. According to the owner, name of Greg Boyce of the Corbett Fish House, when Katrina first hit the price of shucked shellfish jumped from $10 a gallon to $26.

I really have to wonder what this’ll do for the tourist industry in regions like Louisiana, where the seafood restaurant industry is pivotal to its tourist trade. I can’t speak for Portland and New England has its own style of seafood, but the Bayou is a crawfish, oysters and shrimp affordably-priced for the hungry tourists who want to eat the staples that make the area famous. Have to ask yourself what a fried oyster po’ boy is going to cost you on Canal St. now that the season’s stock is covered in 210,000 gallons of crude oil (and still flowing).

The Coast Guard estimates that 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) of crude oil a day is gushing from the sea floor where the blowout occurred, and authorities have said it could take weeks to cap the leak as BP mounts what it calls the largest oil spill containment operation in history.~ibid

And yes…the oil is still flowing.

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