Gulf oil spill impacting local seafood prices

By Diane Walker - bio | email
By Tara Morgan - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander – email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -  That oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will hit local seafood lovers in the wallet. A fishing ban has been ordered along the coast of the four states, impacted by the environmental disaster. That has local stores merchants worried.

The owner of Tuckahoe Seafood in Henrico's west end thinks it will take seven to ten days before there will be sticker shock.

With summer right around the corner, he says the oil spill couldn't have come at a worse time with grilling season in full swing. Brian O'Donohue says sales have been pretty good at Tuckahoe Seafood, but expects that to change very soon.

"I think prices are going to go up, but this really looks ominous," said O'Donohue.

Right now, the oil spill has led to a ten day moratorium on commercial fishing in four states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and part of Florida. O'Donohue says the disruption in the supply cycle will increase demand for Virginia seafood and push up prices.

"It has to be a constant supply of product so now we've got a 10 day shut down which means snapper, grouper, this shrimp it's all going to be affected by that so there will be no supply," said O"Donohue.

It wasn't long ago, O'Donohue was dealing with a spike in prices after the Iceland volcano.

"We buy a lot of salmon that comes from the North Sea. Those three or four days when the flights were shut down there was no salmon available," said O'Donohue.

Now because of the oil spill, O'Donohue says people may either flock toward the less popular kinds of fish or turn away from seafood altogether.

"When prices go up like this I wonder some times where's the breaking point for someone who's going to say 'this is expensive for a protein item, I need to look for another food source,'" said O'Donohue.

To give you an idea of what to expect: one distributor says the average price for a pound of shrimp shot up from $2.00 a pound to almost $5.00 in the past week. The gulf region provides more than half of the nation's shrimp and oyster.

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