Like seafood? Your menu may be getting smaller - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Like seafood? Your menu may be getting smaller

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) -

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

KILGORE-LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - The black tides rolling on the Louisiana coast may be hundreds of miles away but East Texas is already caught in its wake. The massive oil slick covering the gulf has crippled the multi-billion dollar fishing industry.

Boats supplying local businesses now sit in port, while restaurant inventories dwindle. When it comes to seafood, your menu may be getting smaller.

Seafood lover, Jerry Young, arrived at his favorite restaurant and was out of luck.

"They got the best oysters, raw oysters, in town," he said. "That's the reason I come, but they ain't got none now."

Young settled for fried oysters - the final few left in a sudden seafood shortage.

"We just ran out of them yesterday...it's definitely a lot emptier," said Chrissy Young, the manager of Fisherman's Market. "We've called all of our major suppliers trying to find them and we just can't find anything."

The bad news greets every customer at the counter: no oysters anywhere.

Two weeks ago, 24,000 of the money-making mollusks filled their cooler.

The oil leak hundreds of miles away robbed supply and 40% of profits, but couldn't stop prior planning.

"We went ahead and ordered up twice as much of the shrimp," said Young.

That shrimp is now stockpiled as the slick increased demand in addition to price. Wholesale price per pound of shrimp is up nearly a dollar.

"It can be a total disaster for all the shrimp and oysters, for sure, coming out of the gulf," said Kilgore Crawfish and Seafood owner Donny Perry.

Freshwater fare crawfish and catfish account for most business at Kilgore Crawfish and Seafood, but take away the gulf and owner Ronny Perry says he faces at least a 25% loss.

"Eventually we'll have to raise our price on the shrimp and the oysters," said Perry.

It is a consequence customers may avoid except for Jerry Young.

"I might not eat as many as I did before but I'm gonna eat," he said. "It's like gasoline. You got no choice but to pay for it."

But, as long as the oil keeps on flowing, those truly paying for it will be the businesses.

The gulf coast's commercial fishing industry brings in about $2.4 billion to the region.

Officials say the spill could have widespread effects on, not only the wildlife, but the entire way of life for a group of people.

Copyright 2010 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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