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Passing on the shrimp cocktails

Not only has the recent BP oil spill retracted political support for offshore projects but seafood lovers to top chefs alike are worried  that shrimp cocktails might disappear from restaurant menus. In this upcoming issue of ABJ, we spoke with a national association and a seafood delicacy producer, both of whom talked about the importance of environmental safety. Yet mounting concerns about limited supply has consumers and business owners stocking up frantically.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico couldn’t have come at a worse time; the waters are filled with fish, shrimp, oysters and crab in high spawning season. With oil seeping into oyster beds and no plankton for the shrimp to eat, seafood supply is about to come to a halt—threatening the livelihood of small operators and local fisheries in the area.  But more importantly, New Orleans restaurateurs to seafood lovers are worried that their shrimp cocktail is about to disappear off the menu—for an indefinite amount of time.  For the people of Louisiana that is equivalent to Italians having to forgo pasta.

Many Louisianans fear that the massive oil spill will not be contained without affecting local seafood supply—so they are urgently rushing to the fish markets to stock up as much as they can. As one local explains to the news media outlets, “seafood in Louisiana is a part of life; it’s like walking the dog or going to church on Sunday, people have to have it—it’s like a drug.” Another local Carole St. German explained as such: “people here evacuate for hurricanes and take all their shrimp; they may leave some of their good clothes but they will take their shrimp.”

As someone who couldn’t live without consuming seafood on a weekly basis—except for maybe scallops—has even me a little concerned. After all the idea of a limited supply driving up prices, yet again, in the grocery stores has provoked seafood lovers to hoard mussels and shrimp by the bucket fulls.

Still, the remaining issue is how long, if at all, will the level of quality of seafood be affected and what will the long terms effects be on the local businesses? We want to hear your thoughts!





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