Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Oyster Harvest Ruined by Spillway Opening

Hope you don't enjoy oysters on the half-shell.  The Times-Picayune reports the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway wiped out the Louisiana oyster harvest:

People queued up as usual outside Acme Oyster House in the French Quarter one recent day, while inside the aroma of oysters bubbling on the grill filled the dining room and servers whisked past with trays of po-boys.

But at the marble-topped oyster bar, something was starkly amiss: No one was slurping raw oysters.

Facing a dramatic plunge in the supply of Louisiana oysters, Acme has temporarily stopped serving raw oysters at all seven of its regional restaurants.

''If we can't get Louisiana oysters, we're not going to serve raw oysters at all,'' Acme CEO Paul Rotner said.

''Every oyster we get in, we're directing them to the grill so we can at least keep that product available,'' he said. ''And I'm not sure how long we can even keep doing that.''

Acme is not alone. Drago's Seafood, another major player in the local oyster business, made the same decision...

Dire predictions for this year's oyster season have been stacking up since the spring, when an unprecedented influx of freshwater from the Mississippi River began washing through many of Louisiana's prime oyster growing grounds. Now the results are showing up at oyster bars.

Oysters are scarce, and restaurants are paying through the teeth to scrounge whatever they can. It's forced some unusual calculations for a traditional local pleasure and brought foreboding for the future.

Outflows, empty harvests

Fall is when Louisiana normally begins harvesting a torrent of oysters. This year, the torrent is barely a trickle.

Restaurants have resorted to rationing. They're reaching far beyond their normal local supply chains to get whatever boxes and sacks of oysters they can find, revising menus and tapping stockpiles of frozen product to keep fried oysters on their po-boys and seafood platters.

Many in the business are calling the shortage the worst they've ever seen, worse than the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 or the BP oil spill disaster in 2010, both of which devastated the local industry.

''It's never been this bad in my lifetime,'' said Carolina Baroque, oyster program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Louisiana is the heart of the U.S. oyster industry, historically producing a third of the nation's total harvest. In 2017, the state landed 13.3 million pounds of them, according to federal commercial fishing data. The abundance is shipped to restaurants and markets across the country and fuels a robust oyster culture around Louisiana dining tables.

Oysters thrive in the state's coastal estuarine environment, with its mix of freshwater and brine. But this year that mix was thrown off radically by an extraordinary influx of freshwater....

Everyone in the local seafood business says November can't come soon enough. By the middle of next month, oyster experts believe production will increase in areas farther to the west of the Mississippi River that saw less freshwater flowing through them.

Oysters from Texas may pick up some of the slack for southeast Louisiana's missed production as well.

Still, there's no missing that the state's normally prodigious oyster supply is scraping bottom this season.

What's more worrisome, he said, is the long-range prognosis for the state's oyster production. The industry may be dealing with the havoc of this year's freshwater influx long into the future.

''We've been hearing the warning bells on this all summer when the spillway was open,'' he said. ''What if they have to open the spillway next year too?''... Rest of article.


13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Little over dramatic. It killed the oysters East do the river into the Biloxi marsh area. Areas west of the river are fine. Still though, screw LA for putting their mess through our estuaries. Had they opened it earlier and in conjunction with the old river structure and sent it through the atchafalya basin, it wouldn’t have been as bad.

Anonymous said...

Climate change is a Chinese Hoax, so idk what they're b*tching about. Just waive the flag and suck it up, liberals!

ADAPT2030 said...

1:14,
I thought the previous drought was caused by climate change? Now climate change caused the flooding? So us it responsible for the hot and the cold, the wet and the dry?

I get it though. It is too complicated to grasp, so we just have to accept the consensus among the scientists.

I'm so glad they stopped teaching kids critical thinking and replaced it with acceptance and tolerance!

Anonymous said...

If it's not "climate change," it's the Russians, or the Chinese, or the Ukranians, or Trump, or Bush, or the Turks, or the...

But it's never ever a liberals fault.

Anonymous said...

As it typical, Kingfish jumps the proverbial gun and exaggerates. I've not bought oysters from the Mississippi sound or coast since before Katrina, and that was thirteen years ago. Where the hell can anybody have gotten them unless you parked out on the beach and met an incoming boat?

We used to see Gollott's oysters, years ago, but not in the past fifteen years.

Next Up: Recent Ice raid in Mississippi Drives The Price Of A Chicken to Twenty-Seven Bucks. Black Market Moves In...

Kingfish said...

I did? How?

Anonymous said...

go complain to the federal government and the army corps of engineers .................wait a moment, .....that may not be such a good idea after all, considering that this state is nothing but a stinking federal subsidy.

Anonymous said...

1:37, climate change has long been predicted to causes extreme weather patterns, which includes droughts, floods, etc. That, apparently, IS too complicated for some to grasp, critical thinking notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...

At what time in recorded history has any place on this planet NOT suffered from extreme weather patterns?

Anonymous said...

Womp womp

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile up the river in theMississippi Delta our governor,Cowboy preacher Andy, and the economic development arm of the Delta-Delta Council (oxymoron) wants to pump 9 billion gallons of muddy water a day into the already flooded Mississippi River. You extreme right wingers out there that keep claiming climate change is a liberal idea need to sign up for the next production of Planet of the Apes.

Anonymous said...

@9:30 every other state has a pumping station to prevent backwater flooding, why cant we?

Anonymous said...

9:30 is totally misinformed and willfully ignorant. First, what he claims are facts are not. Secondly, Bryant and his cowboy appointee and Delta Council don't give a flying flip about the flooded areas of the Delta. Nor does Bryant's other appointee, Cindy Smith. Bryant did a helicopter flyover almost a year ago, the cowboy was riding fence on his chicken farm for the past year and Delta Council is busy collecting dues.

9:30 might try starting with research into the meaning of the word 'Backwater'.

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