Oil Spill Crude Disaster

Mar 1, 2011 11:39 PM by Maddie Garrett

State of Gulf Seafood After Spill: Road to Recovery

To conclude the KATC special series on the state of gulf seafood after the BP oil spill, Maddie Garrett takes a look at the survival of an industry that so many in south Louisiana depend on.

The message from those on the boats and in the restaurants is that gulf seafood must move forward. And every day fishermen and business owners work to do just that.

Whether you own a seafood company or manage a cajun restaurant on the coast, the BP crude disaster put everyone in the same boat.

"People aren't requesting gulf product, plus we've lot market share to competition," said Mike Voisin, owner of Motivatit Oysters in Houma, LA.

"I mean the first thing we saw on the news, we didn't know what was going to happen. 'Are we going to have to shut the doors? Are we going to be able to afford seafood? Are we going to be able to get seafood?" said Amanda Acosta, General Manager of Boudreau and Thibodeau's Cajun Cookin' restaurant in Houma, LA.

But Voisin and Acosta both agree on one thing, the worst is over.

"We're not having any issues with obtaining seafood from anywhere, we're not having any issues on keeping up with supply," said Acosta.

Voisin's plant is exporting thousands of oysters again, but his buyers around the country and the world are slow to trust his products...

"The real challenge is going to be getting out to the American population and to the world and saying our product is fresh, available and safe and not have them think about safety at all,"

But a recent survey from the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board shows consumers are still wary of eating gulf seafood:

- 23% of consumers said they ate less seafood during the spill.
-19% said they are still eating less fish, directly because of the spill.

But Acosta said she sees a different attitude at her restaurant and here in southern Louisiana.

"We haven't had anyone come in and question Louisiana seafood. I think that people here believe that if you're serving seafood in a restaurant it's safe," she said.

Acosta said her biggest challenge has been the cost of gulf seafood.

"We've seen increases in the pricing, our food cost has gone up because of that. We've had to actually adjust some of our pricing to be able to afford to continue to serve the portion sizes and things the way we've been doing," said Acosta.

Despite closed fishing waters, contamination fears and higher prices, the people of southern Louisiana are bringing our thriving seafood industry back to life.

"There's nothing wrong with it, we eat this every day, this is how every body lives here," said Acosta.

"And part of who people are in south Louisiana, the mystique, and the joy and the culture here is enjoying the gulf seafood products, the bounty from the land," said Voisin.

Another part of the recovery is the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility, paid for by BP. As of February 28, 2011, GCCF reported paying out roughly $385 million dollars in claims to individuals working in the food, beverage and lodging industries, and about $312 million to businesses in that same sector.

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