Seafood industry hurting from white shrimp shortage, some blame BP

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 28, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 28 at 11:36 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- Shrimpers and businesses connected to the industry may be getting an extra helping hand from BP's Deepwater Horizon claims fund.

One local attorney says BP Administrator Ken Feinberg is taking another look at the damage claims.

"The foreign shrimp or farm raised shrimp really wouldn't fit our menu here," said Pascal's Manale Co-owner Sandy DeFelice.

The Uptown restaurant's signature barbecue shrimp recipe keeps customers coming back for more.

However these days, the white gulf shrimp that has been a staple at this popular culinary spot is hard to come by.

"Right now, the seafood supply is harder to get and the price has increased," said DeFelice.

Almost a year and a half later, the seafood industry is still reeling from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that spewed 206 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico.

"It makes it difficult to do all the business on a regular basis to pay all your bills and survive. It's much more difficult now then prior to the oil spill," said DeFelice.

In LaPlace at Bailey's Shrimp stand at W. Airline Highway at Highway 51 business is slow. Owner Ferrel Bailey accepted a $25,000 settlement from BP after the oil spill. However, he says a shrimp shortage continues to hurt his bottom line.

"There have been times where we've had to shutdown 2 or 3 times a week because the product is just not there," said Bailey.

Before the oil spill, 200 to 250 pounds of shrimp were sold per day at Bailey's Shrimp. On Tuesday, only 91 pounds of shrimp were sold.

"The shrimper, the restaurant owner, the wholesale seafood houses are all laying off people or shutting down," said attorney Daniel Becnel, Jr.

Becnel represents multiple clients still seeking claims from BP including Pascal's Manale. He says normally white gulf shrimp would be thriving, and blames a chemical used to disperse oil for this year's dip in numbers.

"We think the corexit in the BP oil spill has killed most of the baby white shrimp and that's why the fishermen are having such a hard, horrible time making a living," said Becnel, who also added that Deepwater Horizon Claims Fund Administrator Ken Feinberg is re-evaluating certain shrimp claims.

"Now he's re-evaluating what they're going to get because of the white shrimp. The brown shrimp are okay but the white shrimp aren't okay," said Becnel.

As the appetite for seafood remains steady, some say it could take years for the industry to return to its glory days.

"It's not back to normal. There are fewer fishermen out there fishing shrimp and oysters because they had to move on and do something else," said DeFelice.

Feinberg responded Wednesday to Becnel's latest claims about white gulf shrimp and economic damage to related seafood industries:

"I merely informed him that, in light of his concerns, I will review his arguments," said Feinberg via a spokeswoman.

 

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