NEW ORLEANS -- The post-Mardi Gras Lenten season is the busiest time of year for the Louisiana Seafood Industry.
Seafood will be on the dinner table of Catholics and others abstaining from eating meat on Fridays during the 40-day season of preparation before Easter Sunday.
On this Ash Wednesday, there was a long line of customers waiting for a table outside Harbor Seafood in Kenner.
'I love seafood,' said Kefarin Harden. 'Shrimp, catfish, crawfish down here is ridiculous.'
'It's the best time of the year for seafood,' said Claudia Hurtado. 'Shrimp, crawfish, you name it.'
Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, said demand is on the rise as the industry rebounds from the BP oil spill nearly three years ago.
'Our businesses are coming back. They're coming back stronger every single day.'
Seafood processor Harlon Pearce said the quality and quantity of many Lenten favorites are as good as ever.
'Crawfish is plentiful and it's very economical this year,' said Pearce. 'It's way cheaper than it was last year, so it's a great item for Lent. The fattest, sweetest oysters are always in the wintertime like we have right now. Finfish, we've got quite a bit of the drum, the sheephead, we've got the snapper, the tuna, all the offshore fish.'
Pearce said crabs are not as plentiful because of the cooler weather. While shrimp is out of season, he said there is plenty of frozen product to fill your poboy or etouffee.
Leaders in the local seafood industry are asking consumers to support local fishermen by demanding product freshly caught product from Louisiana.
'That's an opportunity for them to support our local communities and help rebuild these communities and keep these communities strong,' said Smith. 'That means so much to our state.'
'Without our fishermen, we have nothing,' said Pearce.
Increased demand for Louisiana seafood is reflected in the cost for certain products.
The price of shrimp, oysters and crabs is now about 20 percent above the 10-year average.