Seafood restaurants, vendors eye gulf oil spill - - Jackson, MS

Seafood restaurants, vendors eye gulf oil spill

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By Cheryl Lasseter - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Ironically, Duggan's Seafood is a stone's throw from the BP Gas Station off I-55 North in Jackson. And John Lester has been busier than usual Friday, as customers stock up.

"I'll have shrimp next week. I've already talked to my guy," Lester tells a customer.  He ran out of shrimp as we interviewed him Friday afternoon.

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is closing in on the Louisiana coast, and seafood vendors like Lester can feel its shadow creeping in on business.

"I've been scared since last week. I go from being terrified to (feeling like) it will be ok, talking to different suppliers," he says. "My crab picker, my oyster guy, shrimp guy. They're all very concerned. I think one of the first things to go is gonna be the oysters and crabmeat."

Seafood restaurants are still serving, with a close eye on the oil spill clean-up efforts.

The manager of the Mayflower Restaurant in downtown Jackson says it could be devastating. The grouper, trout, and shellfish he gets is from the Gulf of Mexico. In a worst case scenario, they'd have to scramble to find it elsewhere.

The Half-Shell Oyster House in Gulfport sells 10,000 oysters every week. They're bracing for a big hit. "There's a possibility the oyster beds in Pass Christian may be shutting down," he says.

But in Ridgeland, they're not sweating it at AJ's Seafood Grille. Their seafood suppliers will simply stock up from the Texas, Florida and Western Louisiana waters. "The only problem is the oysters and crabmeat, because it doesn't move. But other than that, we're still gonna be able to get fresh redfish, and all fish, other seafood," says Executive Chef Carlos Perez.

AJ's Seafood Grille is also assisting with tornado relief efforts. Servers will donate 30% of their tips from Friday through Sunday, and the restaurant will match that amount.

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