Louisiana seafood hard to find

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by Katie Moore / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on July 12, 2010 at 7:25 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 12 at 7:30 PM

After nearly three months of oil gushing into the Gulf, the worst-case scenarios for the seafood industry are starting to play out.

It's becoming very difficult to find Louisiana seafood and local seafood sellers fear even tougher times ahead.

On big days, the Westwego seafood market needs crowd control, but these days, it looks like a ghost town.

"We're all out here in a survival mode. I don't know what to do as far as surviving. I'm gonna fight until I don't have any air in my lungs because this is all I know,” said Terry Adams, owner of Who Dat Seafood Connection.

More than 30 years ago, Adams and his father got eight of the seafood stalls in Westwego.

Today, there's still gulf seafood available, including some live crabs, but much of the catch offered in Louisiana seafood markets isn't coming from Louisiana.

Some suppliers are shipping the good stuff in, frozen, from Texas and Alabama, especially the shrimp.

At Big Fisherman Seafood on Magazine Street, owner Henry Poynot said he’s getting, “Some stuff from Bayou la Batre, Alabama. We're getting the crawfish from the Atchafalaya basin. And that's our savior.”

But crawfish season ends in the next week or so, and many oyster suppliers have already shut down, leaving the Louisiana pickings slim.

“We have some local drum over here - filets. They actually catch these in Lake Pontchartrain,” Poynot said as he pointed out the catch in his showcase.

The situation is so dire that the Westwego market is teetering on the edge of collapse.

Many of the stalls are already closed, and the others are fighting for their livelihoods.

"Everyday, I sit in my office and ball my eyes out sometimes. I'm in there by myself because… I lost my dad in October, and I miss him, but I'm glad he's not here to have to deal with this,” Adams said.

For many, at this point, every customer counts.

"Most of the time when we come home we stop here on the way out,” said New Orleans native Michael Cyprian. He lives in Atlanta now, and typically stocks up in Westwego before heading home.

“We can't find oysters. Even here. Atlanta we went to several restaurants and they stopped selling them all together due to the oil situation in the Gulf,” Cyprian said.

The Westwego owners, like Adams, are fighting for survival, more than three months into a disaster with no end in sight.

“This is a nightmare. Katrina was nothing compared to this,” Adams said.

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