Coastal Crisis: Local seafood vendors still holding on - - Jackson, MS

Coastal Crisis: Local seafood vendors still holding on

By Cheryl Lasseter - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Grounded shrimpers along the Gulf Coast have gotten a short-term fix. British Petroleum is reimbursing them for their lost wages.  Close to $30 million has already been paid out.

Suppliers can get shrimp from the East Coast or other locations, so local seafood vendors are only starting to feel the pinch.

"We are starting to see the prices of shrimp go up," said David Saxton, General Manager of New Orleans Fish House on McDowell Road in Jackson.

"Things are getting a little tighter, especially on the shrimp, crabmeat, oysters," said John Lester, owner of Doogan's Seafood in DeVille Plaza in Jackson.

Lester said he's absorbing those price increases for now.  "I've gone up on my oysters slightly and crabmeat, but I've been able to hold my fish and shrimp prices.  I feel certain, as the weeks and months go by, and (the oil) makes landfall, that's where the problem is," Lester said.

On Thursday he wasn't selling butterfly shrimp or oysters.

That's no surprise, said Saxton.  New Orleans Fish House supplies seafood restaurants across the state.  Saxton said currently, oysters are the biggest concern.

"They're a species that can't move from place to place like a lot of fish can move," Saxton explained.  "If the oil comes in where they're at, they're gonna be infected.  The water is not really affecting the biggest percentage of our fish, where the oil is right now."

Saxton said shrimpers freeze much of their supplies to stretch it into the cooler months.  Later this year, if shrimpers can't resume their work, and frozen supplies are depleted, consumers may see a sharper rise in shrimp prices.

Seafood customers didn't seem worried about the quality of their seafood, but they're skeptical about BP's response.

"It takes concrete to stop an oil leak.  That's how we did it for over 30 years in the oil field business," said Doogan's customer Joseph Buras.  "They better go find them a new line of work, British Petroleum.  Don't know what they're doing."

©2010 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly