Local News

Oil leak affecting seafood prices in Raleigh

Posted May 10, 2010 11:15 p.m. EDT
Updated June 18, 2010 11:53 p.m. EDT

— As 4 million gallons of crude oil continue to leak into the Gulf of Mexico, seafood stores and restaurants in Raleigh have already started feeling the effects of the spill.

Louisiana normally provides 35 percent of the oysters sold in North America and nearly half of the shrimp. With that market shut off, restaurants and seafood markets nationwide have scrambled to keep up their supply.

At Capital Seafood-Market in Raleigh, oysters are usually sold year-round.

“We could sell 60 to 70 bags of oysters Friday and Saturday,” Capital Seafood owner Dwayne Greene said.

But Greene said he decided not to buy oysters from Louisiana after the spill, and the seafood he is selling doesn't come from the Gulf.

“We don't get any of our seafood from down in the Gulf, but everything that we have on our counter has gone up in price,” Greene said.

The oil leak has already shut down Gulf Coast commercial fisheries and has threatened fishing workers’ livelihoods. Greene said so far, his wholesale seafood prices have risen 5 percent in just one week.

“All I can do is eventually pass it on to the customer base. But right now, we are hoping it won't be long, so we are kind of maintaining our prices across the board,” he added.

Chef Adam Jones said the spill has forced Michael Dean's Restaurant in Raleigh to buy oysters from Texas and South Florida. He checks daily to see how far the oil slick has spread.

“If the oil slick goes west, we will have to source out different oysters. We also carry a lot of cold-water oysters – oysters from New England, Canada, the West Coast. So, there are other options for us,” Jones said.

A blast at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, led to the leak on April 20.

BP is trying several options to stop the flow of oil. Officials say if the gusher continues as it has, it could surpass the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound by June 20. About 11 million gallons leaked from the oil tanker in 1989.