'Crisis management mode' for Louisiana seafood industry

Print
Email
|

by Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on April 30, 2010 at 9:21 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 30 at 9:21 PM

NEW ORLEANS -  The head of Louisiana's Seafood Marketing Board says convincing customers that fish and shell fish from the Gulf are safe to eat won't be easy in light of the news about the major oil spill and its threat to the fishing industry.

"This is crisis management mode for us, without question," said Smith.

New Orleans seafood restaurants are packed this week and visitors in town for the Jazz Fest, worry about what the oil spill will do the supply of Louisiana seafood and whether their favorite dishes will be safe to eat in the weeks to come.

"Ultimately, I'd trust the seafood industry on it, but I think there would certainly be questions," said Ben Haygood of Charleston, South Carolina.

"This is a terrible tragedy and I think the whole country is probably concerned about not only the quality of the seafood, but the quality of people's lives that are going to be effected by this oil spill," said John Rudolph from Maine. "It's just devastating."

"I'll wait and see what happens," said Tim Rattigan from New York. "It's definitely going to be a concern, probably for everybody. Let's see how bad it is."

The Louisiana seafood industry is a $2.4 billion business. It accounts for one-third of the domestic seafood harvested in the U.S.

Louisiana is the number one supplier of shrimp, oysters, crawfish and blue crabs.

"This is devastating," said Smith. "We don't want to see any of our waters impacted in any way, shape or form and from a public relations standpoint, we know the challenges following Katrina of how difficult this will be to educate the consumer the seafood waters are safe from the areas that are not impacted."

Grocer Donald Rouse took out a full page ad in this Sunday's newspaper, encouraging people to continue to buy and eat Louisiana seafood.

"Naturally, we're from Louisiana, so we're very concerned, not only with the seafood industry, but what it's going to do to Louisiana and all our neighbors down here," said Rouse.

Dealers and restaurant owners stockpiled seafood before the oil hit the Louisiana coast. Right now, there is a plentiful supply. They say if the oil spill migrates west of the Mississippi River, Louisiana seafood may be hard to come by.

"We know that almost 90 percent of the shrimp harvest at this time of the year is west of the Mississippi, an area that's not being effected," said Acme Oyster House COO Lucien Gunter. "Almost 70 percent of the oyster harvest that happens this time of the year is on the west of the Mississippi."

Right now, we're still in supply," said Rouse. "What the future brings, I don't know. I have a big fear that it could change."

For now, two-thirds of the Louisiana coast is not effected by the oil spill.

Print
Email
|