News / USA

Seafood Industry Damage Limited to Gulf of Mexico

Imports keep seafood on plates nationwide

The oil spill threatens Gulf grouper. But prices have not increased yet.
The oil spill threatens Gulf grouper. But prices have not increased yet.

Multimedia

Audio

Sellers of fresh seafood are starting to feel the effects of the oil leak that continues in the Gulf of Mexico, but experts say imported fish will keep supermarkets nationwide stocked.

At Captain White's Seafood City, one of a cluster of fresh seafood vendors in an out-of-the-way corner of the Washington, DC's waterfront, owner Sonny White says oyster prices have doubled since the oil spill closed some oyster beds in the Gulf states of Mississippi and Louisiana. He's worried that soon oysters will be too expensive to sell.

"Oysters are what would really hurt us to begin with," he says. "We go through hundreds of bushels a week of oysters. We'd just hate to lose that business."

He wouldn't say how much he earns from oysters, except to say it's substantial.

Shrimp is among the Gulf of Mexico's best-known seafood. But 90 percent of the shrimp in the United States is imported.
Shrimp is among the Gulf of Mexico's best-known seafood. But 90 percent of the shrimp in the United States is imported.

Current impacts minor

Across the parking lot at Jessie Taylor Seafood, manager Ryan Evans says the oil spill hasn't been a big deal for his business — yet.

"It could turn into a very big deal," he says. "At the moment, it isn't such a major problem. Shrimp prices are starting to increase a little, but if this continues, yeah, it'll definitely be a major problem."

So far, he says, he's had to raise his prices for shrimp from the Gulf by about fifty cents a kilo. The price of valuable fish like king mackerel, grouper and snapper could also go up, but hasn't yet.

Sales of seafood from the five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico totaled $660 million in 2008, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. But while the local impacts in the Gulf states could be devastating, the rest of the nation might not see much of an impact. That's because most Americans shop for seafood at supermarkets rather than at fresh fish stands, and supermarkets get most of their seafood from overseas, according to Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the industry-sponsored National Fisheries Institute.

Big and small buy imports

"[More than] 83 percent of seafood is imported," he says, "and that includes 90 percent of all shrimp. So, while the seafood that comes out of the Gulf is iconic and people ask for it by name, broadly, it doesn't have the same impact in terms of sourcing for big grocery store chains."

Gibbons says while the big supermarket and restaurant chains don't rely as much on Gulf seafood, the small businesses that do are more likely to suffer.

Sonny White of Captain White's Seafood City says about 20 percent of his catch comes from the Gulf, and he gets quite a bit from the Atlantic ocean. But he also buys imported shrimp, tuna, and other seafood from the Philippines, China, and other countries.

Sympathy for Gulf fishermen

So he's not too worried about how the oil spill will affect him.

"It wouldn't put us out of business. We've been through a lot," he says. But, he adds, "It's going to hurt the people who depend on the Gulf for a living. I mean, I really feel sorry for them because they're going to be out of business."

White says one scenario that does worry him is if the ocean currents carry the oil spill out of the Gulf and into the Atlantic Ocean, where a lot of his seafood comes from. If that happens, experts say, the impact could go far beyond the fishermen in the Gulf.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More