Deep-Sea Fried: Oil Spill in the Gulf Could Hurt Florida Restaurants -- Updated
According to local restaurants, Gulf oyster suppliers have said there will definitely be a point where the buggers will come off the menu almost everywhere. The only question is when.
But as of now, restaurants are still serving oysters raw and on the half shell. But they're also preparing for tough times ahead, when Gulf seafood becomes scarce.
Southport Raw Bar is still selling Gulf oysters from Louisiana and Florida and doesn't know when the supply will run out. A representative of the restaurant said it's looking at acquiring Texas oysters when and if they're available.
Debbie Lauricella, manager of the Whale's Rib in Deerfield Beach, says the restaurant will likely look to meet demand with oysters like bluepoints from the East Coast or up north. The result, she says, is customers will pay a higher price. "We'll do what we have to do as long as customers want them," she says.
A manager at the Boynton Beach eatery Hurricane Alley says they'll have to find a way to replace the 50 to 55 dozen oysters they sell during happy hour on a typical Thursday or Friday. "It's not going to be fun," an employee told us over the phone.
Right now, it's a wait-and-see game with Gulf seafood.
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Ask your waiter where those oysters or shrimp you're about to order came from and he's likely to say "the Gulf."
But thanks to the spill that hit the Gulf of Mexico last week, we may see that change. At least for the near future.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has put a stop to all fishing in the oil-affected waters of the Gulf. That's a stretch running from the waters along the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana to Pensacola Bay, Florida. The reasoning, according to the NOAA, is to prevent any contaminated seafood from entering the marketplace.
The fishing industry in the Gulf, which provides more than 1 billion pounds of seafood annually, will take a big hit until the spill is contained and cleaned up. That means Florida restaurants that normally get their shellfish from the Gulf will have to look elsewhere, and costs will rise as a result. Restaurants like Joe's Stone Crab have already taken Gulf oysters off the menu.
So enjoy those last remaining Gulf shrimp and oysters while you can. It just may be a while before you can have them again.