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As Oil Spills, Locals Buy Up Seafood

NEW ORLEANS–As a massive, growing oil spill threatens to crush the Gulf seafood industry, Louisiana locals are snatching up fresh, locally-harvested shrimp in droves.

The Crescent City Farmer’s Market in uptown New Orleans was out of seafood by 11 a.m. yesterday. FOX News reported that Gulf seafood markets as far as Florida were selling four times more seafood than usual.

fresh-seafood-featured.jpg“I have no more seafood, sorry!” Clara Gerica, a vendor at the three-times-a-week New Orleans farmers market told a disappointed customer. “Come back Thursday or Saturday, I’ll set some aside for ya.”

“Today was extremely busy. I haven’t had a day like this since before Katrina,” explains Gerica, whose family is still rebuilding their house and three boats, all casualties of the hurricane.

From the minute the market opened, locals were lined up to secure their seafood. “People are afraid they aren’t going to be able to get it,” notes Gerica, adding that she is not worried about the local supply.  “[The oil spill] will slow me down on crab meat, but everything else should be fine.”

“Unless something drastic happens,” she says, the rich fishing waters west of the Mississippi will likely be spared from oil contamination.

The hope that New Orleans will be able to keep a steady supply of fresh, local seafood is based on two assumptions: that the weather will continue to push the oil east and that BP will be able to stop the flow of oil in the next few days.

If the west side of Louisiana is spared from the “oilpocalypse”, it will be heavily relied upon to help fishermen keep up with demand, much of which is local.

As well-known New Orleans chef and local foodie John Besh wrote last week in The Atlantic, “We will have a supply of seafood, but that supply will be affected. In the short term our supplies will be cut in half–and that’s if we’re lucky. In the long term I’m afraid for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Texas, the Florida panhandle.”

“This is much more than about birds,” wrote Besh. “It’s about a culture, an economy, the livelihood of thousands and thousands of people–and wetlands that have been the most concentrated source of seafood production for our entire country.”

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