NEW ORLEANS - Whether you like it fried, boiled, or chargrilled, the seafood is served up fresh at the 10th annual Plaquemines Parish Seafood Festival. It’s a celebration of the community's heritage and one of it's major industries.
“The food's amazing, it's so good out here,” said Plaquemines Parish resident Jailyn Owings.
But fisherman say the festival also highlights the challenges they’ve experienced since the BP oil spill. Local staples like oysters are still making a rebound.
“Since the oil spill, we've seen the worst years that we've seen in our recorded history,” said John Tesvich, chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force and fourth generation oyster fisherman.
More than four years after the spill, Tesvich says oysters are still not coming back in some areas.
“We don't have the young oysters that we used to,” said Tesvich. “That's a concern.”
And a shorter supply also means consumers may see a change in quality.
“We're losing the better quality and what's happening we're going to second and third quality to try to get enough in the market,” said Tesvich.
Crabs are even more scarce, and that’s driving prices up, according to those in the seafood industry.
“Prior to the oil spill, that wasn't around. We didn't have that conversation. Now [when you talk to suppliers] it's like, ‘Give me everything you can,’” said Phil Miller, an event caterer with Salvo's Seafood, which specializes in boiled seafood.
Fisherman say supply is generally lower and costs are higher than pre-spill levels across the board. But there has been improvement in the four years since the spill.
“A lot of investment is going into the recovery of oysters in particular,” said Tesvich.
Still, it's difficult to blame the ongoing problems on the BP spill without scientific proof. Tesvich says, the state is working on that. And fisherman are working to bring home local favorites, and hoping for the best.
The Plaquemines Parish Seafood Festival runs through Sunday. It costs $5 for adults and is free for children 12 and under. All proceeds go to charity.