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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs