FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO–The Golden Gulf Seafood Company in Biloxi and C.F. Gollott & Son Seafood located on the Back Bay in D’Iberville are two Mississippi Gulf businesses that were damaged by Katrina and now face an uncertain future because of the BP oil spill.
They have differing histories and different approaches to the business. There’s one thing they agree on big time–no one will get away with selling shrimp to them that’s been contaminated with oil.
“Give me a break,” says Gold Gulf owner Richard Gollott, who also serves on the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources.
He gets no disagreement over at C.F. Gollott’s because shrimp processors have long been on guard for that bag of shrimp that inadvertently fell into a bilge where diesel fuel might be rolling around.
Now that two million gallons of light crude oil is splashing about the Gulf of Mexico, Armond Gollott III, who is the latest in an unbroken string to run the 75-year old family-owned business decided to warn shrimp boat captains about the zero tolerance policy.
In a memo announcing that C.F.’s was “off the market” because of the BP oil spill, Gullott said the family wanted to “offer our assurances that absolutely no contaminated shrimp will be processed.”
“Our HACCP protocols and guidelines will be followed stringently to insure that our product will be the same superior quality as always,” he said in a letter to the shrimp boats.
Gollott said the processor would be working “hand in hand with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife, Mississippi Department of Health and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to insure that our domestic shrimp going to the nation’s dinner tables is still the safest seafood available to eat.”
The processors learned during the day Tuesday that brown shell shrimp season in the waters west of the Mississippi River was closing at 5 p.m. because shrimp being harvested were too small. It may open again as early as May 15.
In the meantime, some Gulf processors are turning to foreign sources for supply, a practice that is common this time of year before domestic production takes up the slack.
Some brokers of foreign shrimp are already trying to jack up prices because the Gulf oil spill, which as of late Tuesday, remained off shore beyond the barrier islands.
Richard Gollott, who likes to get wild shrimp from places like Venezuela to cover any gaps in Gulf shrimp production, says he was asked for 50 cents extra per pound for an order he placed some time ago. He passed.
Numerous prices, as reported by Urner Barry’s Seafood Price Report, are ticking up, but Gulf processors do not see any big supply problems yet.
Both Gollott & Son and Golden Gulf were lightly staffed Tuesday. Some hands were on deck to fill customer orders from product stored in freezers. Gone were dozens of seafood workers who should be sorting and grading incoming shrimp or peeling shrimp.
Those jobs, at least for a time, are spill victims.