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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitcheni
X
September 22, 2014 11:42 AM
With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid