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Seafood industry still struggling after oil spill

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Written by : Stacy Temple
stemple@thenewsstar.com 

 

The BP oil spill’s tentacles reached far beyond the coastal wetlands of Louisiana, touching restaurants scattered throughout the nation and world.

The well may be capped, but the Louisiana seafood business is still struggling to regain footing as one of the top producers of succulent shrimp, flavorful oysters and delicate fish over worries about the safety of the products.

Ewell Smith, director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, said BP has given the state millions to use for advertising to revamp Louisiana seafood’s image. Although business has picked up in the last months, he said sales are far short of the levels before the April 20, 2010, tragedy. In fact, according to the board, 70 percent of the country is still concerned about the safety of Louisiana seafood even though countless tissue samples from all kinds of Gulf-dwelling fish, shrimp and oysters have proved to be negative of oil.

Smith said although the money will help offset advertising costs, the industry still has a long way to go to ease the fear of potential buyers.

“After the spill, we didn’t know what was going to happen. Fear ran rampant,” Smith said. “Given the size and scope of the challenge ahead of us, these funds will help. We are working on a very strategic plan. It will be targeted to the foodies of the world and the people who make the decisions.”

The board has allotted up to $15 million to an advertising company that will be in charge of promoting the state’s seafood. The ad campaign is expected to last for three years.

Restaurants across the South and beyond felt the brunt of the spill because Louisiana seafood prices increased drastically in the days and weeks after the oil rig explosion. And then, there was none.

Louisiana restaurants particularly felt the pinch of rising prices, followed by being forced to order supplies from around the world just to maintain items on their menus.

Restaurants like Warehouse No. 1 in Monroe, have served a delicious and flavorful lineup of Gulf seafood for more than three decades. Dennis Clack, general manager of the Warehouse No. 1, said prices skyrocketed after the spill, and there were times when items just were not available for purchase.

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Written by demon53

April 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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