The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has wrecked havoc with fishing off the shores of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
What does that spell for one local seafood business? The price of shrimp could double and hoarding seems to have begun, according to Rick Groomer of Groomer Seafood.
The business has sold fish, shrimp and other seafood for going on four generations in San Antonio. Last Friday, says Groomer, customers were crowding the walk-in seafood store, at 9801 W. McCullough Ave., to buy shrimp. Prices went up 20 percent last week alone, he said.
That’s not stopping shrimp aficionados as well as restaurants. “I’d say the last week, week-and-a-half, our sales have quadrupled. On the restaurant end, they’re really starting to hoard shrimp,” he said. Texas shrimping season is closed until July 15.
In Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama coastal waters the shrimping and fishing have come to a stop after a drilling rig explosion on April 20. Eleven people were killed and since then about 4 million gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf.
“I speak daily with (fishermen) all over the place. Today a guy in Louisiana told me his entire future right now is in the hands of the state health department, which is conducting water quality tests. Louisiana has a $2.5 billion a year fishing business and now it’s shut down,” Groomer said.
At restaurants and one local grocery store we called, shrimp prices were holding steady — so far.
“Shrimp prices haven’t gone up, it’s selling the same as we’ve sold it for the past few years,” said a Central Market fishmonger. At Sandbar, a restaurant at the Pearl specializing in fresh seafood, chef Chris Carlson had a similar response. “Things are holding steady right now,” he said.
Oysters are also of concern, since they can’t get up and move from a contaminated bed. There has been some discussion about relocating the beds, though.
Effects of the spill can mean higher prices, but, as Groomer noted, shrimp and oysters are “a worldwide product.” So the supply can come from other sources, such as Asia and South America.
As for affecting the Texas fishing and shrimp industry?
“We’ve been lucky in Texas — so far,” said Groomer.
Photos by Bonnie Walker