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What? No talk about the oil spill? [moved from New Orleans]

I'm surprised to see that no one is talking about the oil spill and how that will effect the New Orleans food and fishing industry.

For the locals, what's the word on the street? What are people saying about the clean up efforts (or lack there of)? How will our favorite restaurants handle this? What's going to be safe to eat/not eat?

I leave in less than a week for a mini vacay to New Orleans. This news has shocked and saddened me, but I'm determined to help support the local economy of this great city.... I guess I just won't be having any raw oysters this time.

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  1. Same question. So sad though.

    1. We are all, I'm sure, incredibly saddened (by the scope of this disaster and the presumed deaths of 11 workers). And some of us are angry--esp. when hearing that oil companies balked at the cost of "acoustic switches" that could have averted much of this catastrophe and that the govt. failed to require them.
      Soon, all of us, all over the country, will feel the economic impact via seafood shortages and higher food prices. Much more worrisome is the threat to our estuaries, our wetlands, our wildlife, to the livelihoods of our beleaguered fishermen/women.
      As the news gets worse and worse, most, I suspect, remain in a state of shock.
      No, you probably won't be eating any Gulf oysters or fresh Gulf fish or shrimp any time soon. But thank you for coming and supporting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Looks like we will need that support--once again--desperately.

      Gulf Coast Restaurants
      1200 S Clearview Pkwy, New Orleans, LA 70123

      2 Replies
      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        The impact on food is not too clear at the moment. Shrimp season was opened early to allow as much fishing as possible. I also read that the east side of the river is closed to commercial fishing, but I don't know the exact parameters of the banned area. A friend who is a charter captain switched his operations to the west side of the river. Everything else is pretty much speculation, but i'm guessing we'll see seafood prices rise and see more imports.

        FYI, the acoustic switch wouldn't have done any good, and I'm sick of people pointing to that saying that BP skimped and that skimp would have averted disaster. The acoustic switch is just that - a switch. No switches failed. That much became clear when they tried to close the BOP manually with the ROV. If you can't close a BOP manually, it ain't gonna close with a remote switch. It's like trying to turn on a TV that's not plugged in. Going out to buy a remote control aint gonna turn it on. Word on the street is that the completion cement possibly backed up into the BOP and once there set-up, freezing the BOP. I'm guessing some industrious reporter with the wall street journal wrote the story before the ROV was sent down, but it's since taken on a life of it's own. One more time... the acoustic switch wouldn't have done anything.

        1. re: N.O.Food

          Agreed, the scope of the impact on the seafood industry can't be known. That it will be quite negative is quite clear. Having been to the farmers' markets and the big seafood market in Westwego in the past couple of days, I can tell you most assuredly that the fishermen/women are plenty worried--and plenty disgusted.

          Will we have access to seafood? Sure, current stores are safe and after that we can get it from other places, at a cost. Or buy the Chinese stuff. For me, that's pretty unsettling. Will our restaurants sell tainted seafood? Of course not. Will they suffer? Almost certainly, as tourists and locals alike will worry about the safety of any seafood sold here.

          I'm no engineer--and this is a food site, anyway--so I'm not going to debate the merits of the acoustic switch (which didn't fail--it didn't exist; AS stories have been reported by most of the major news organizations/papers/networks). What I did say, in response to the OP's question, is that "some of us are angry" when we hear that oil companies balked at the expense. And some of us are--at least that's the word on the streets I walk down--when we hear such things, whether you like it or not. I never said anything about BP per se (have actually heard some seafood people say BP is one of the more environmentally aware oil companies although I certainly don't know if that's true). My anger stems from the fact that the oil companies have fought regulation for years as they've reaped huge profits and been instrumental in the damage to our wetlands. I don't criticize the oil industry lightly: oil is obviously vital to the Louisiana economy (but the federal govt. has so far denied us our fair share of oil revenues); my own father's fortunes rose and fell with the oil industry; my brother works in the industry--and disagrees with me on regulation issues.

          Call me crazy, but I'd rather pay $6/gallon for gas if it meant our precious natural resources were protected, our environment were safe, and our local fishermen/women could make a decent living. I've heard the arguments that the industry is pretty safe, accidents are rare, but when they occur, well, that's the price of doing business in big oil. Our appetite for fossil fuels is damned costly. For some of us, this price is too high.

          All of us here love to eat our local specialties. I hope we'll remember where those foods come from and the folks who make it possible for us to eat them.

      2. Here's an article interviewing a few chefs about what's going on:

        Gist of it is we really won't know for sure until next week or so, but 60% of oyster production has been shut down as well as some shrimping. Seems like east of the river is going to be not good for a while. It's extremely upsetting.

        1. You'll still have oysters in less than a week because they were harvested prior to the "landfall" of oil. But the future does not look good. We have no facts to work with regarding responisbility or "acoustic devices" etc. and I think that, despite the looming disaster, we must be fair. I've heard every "truth" available except for Space Aliens being at fault--that will come in time. It ain't good, though. We have rain coming and we must hope that wind will drive this slick away before it gets too far inland (or "inmarsh")

          1. On the Great Lake's section, a query was made re: crayfish and the subject turned immediately to the disaster. Believe me, we here in the Detroit area are very, very concerned, not only about losing the shellfish but more about the people that depend on the industry for their livelihoods. We know what it's like to suffer that kind of loss (autos) and the ripple effect that results. We're all praying for you.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SonyBob

              +1 from another Detroiter, Sonybob.

              And we have our own potential fish disaster coming with the Asian carp getting into the Great Lakes.

            2. Here's a question for New Orleans seafood/restaurant experts - how much of the seafood crop can/will be supplemented by harvests coming from the west-of-river marshes south of New Iberia, Lafayette, etc.? Those areas have a better chance of being untouched by this, so just wondering whether NO can maintain at least SOME supply of a local product.

              Godspeed to everyone down there. Will be trying to assist in the cleanup efforts when I go down in a few weeks in addition to or in place of my originally-planned activities.

              4 Replies
              1. re: mikeh

                Restaurant will do their best to serve local products. West of the river fisheries are still good and safe. Crawfish are an inland crop so they are going to be great through the rest of the season. Lake Pontchartrain is also a source for crabs and other seafood. Most restaurants will fare quite well and adjust and diversify as needed. Some restaurants like Drago's and Acme who specialize in and are famous for one main type of seafood (oysters) will have a more difficult time.

                  1. re: kibbles

                    I wasn't being optimistic. I do think that the restaurants will survive and diversify. However, I do believe this is a horrific tragedy and I share in his outrage that the government has done nothing in 10 days. I think BP needs to liquefy, dissolve and fork over all assets to fix the problem. To leave the health of our environment in the hands of a company that is thinking of survival and profitability is a mistake on the government's part. I am still not going to write off the restaurants though. They were the first businesses back after Katrina and they were in large part responsible for revving up the economy after the hurricane.

                    1. re: LisaDenise

                      im referring to the "Most restaurants will fare quite well" sentiment, which is at odds with Besh's report of being at half-capacity for certain products. 50% is not quite well.

              2. I just flipped over here from posting a note to my sister in which I was saying that I went out of my way to buy wild gulf shrimp, and pay more for it, rather than buy the usual asian varieties. I'm afraid we'll not be seeing gulf seafood in the foreseeable future.

                3 Replies
                1. re: junescook

                  I only buy wild gulf shrimp even though I live in the Pacific NW and it comes at a premium (but hell--it's definitely worth it!). Today I bought one pound for $16.99 (on sale--it's usually $21.99). The fish market guy told me they'll receive only two more shipments and then it's anybody's guess.

                  1. re: luckywonton

                    luckywonton, I made a call to Louisiana Foods, again they are in Houston, and they are selling gulf shrimp 16-20 count for 7.20 brown, and 7.25 white. They ship retail, I was quoted a 10 lb price, but did not inquire about shipping rates. Call them at 800-799-3134. I do however, expect price increases.

                  2. re: junescook

                    You can still get wild Gulf shrimp from Texas and Mexico.A few months ago I was paying 4.99 for 16-20 count, this weekend 10-15 count was 8.98. Luckywonton, if you want Texas shrimp try Louisiana Foods in Houston, they ship and I think you can do better than 20 bucks a pound. Their phone is 713-957-3476, and the have a nice website. You can get lot's more than just shrimp.

                  3. Here's a link to a fairly decent article about the effects of the disaster:


                    1. For those that don't get the Times Picayune, you can keep abreast at: nola.com.

                      1. I agree, I think the lack of discussion you are seeing on here is because we are all scared and worried. The fisherman are being retrained to help with oil cleanup. I think that kind of says it all.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: midcity

                          60 percent of all oysters and shrimp come from the louisiana coast in america, this may destroy a whole state Louisiana is desperately poor, can you imagine going to new orleans and not being able to buy seafood, I tell you this has shocked me to the core.

                            1. are there any updates about this situation (especially since a large portion of the Gulf was just declared off limits for fishing etc)? I'm going to New Orleans in a month and am wondering if I should steer clear of seafood.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: mgarland

                                Those were federal waters that were closed. Most of the state waters are still open. It's too early to tell if they too will be closed. Most of the seafood harvested in Louisiana comes from western areas, which up to now are unaffected. They will still be able to get seafood from Texas, which produces a huge amount of seafood, and so far it looks good over here, plus Mexcico also is an option. If they are selling seafood when you are there, I would eat it. They will not be selling tainted seafood from their fine restaurants, the state will not allow it. Enjoy the wonderful cooking there.

                                1. re: mgarland

                                  From what I've heard, only 20% of the Gulf is off limits to fishing. There's always stuff coming from Texas since the Gulf stream currents will carry a lot of that oil towards FL and the Atlantic Ocean.

                                  Your seafood should be safe... maybe a little more pricier but safe.

                                  1. re: dave_c

                                    Pretty much what I said . The prevailing currents east of the Mississippsi River go toward Florida. There are loop eddys in the Gulf that could potentially carry oil to Texas, but more likely to Florida, get caught in the Gulf Stream, and possibly go through the Keys and affect the Eastern Seaboard. The only thing that is certain is that nobody knows for sure what will happen.

                                    1. re: James Cristinian

                                      thanks for the update! I think I would have cried if you'd told me to steer clear of a shrimp po boy.