Gulf seafood problems are far-reaching

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Closing oyster beds in Louisiana could mean higher prices for the shellfish at south Georgia restaurants. 

More oyster beds are being shut down as oil from that gulf leak makes its way farther west along the Louisiana coast.

Some Albany seafood restaurants saw prices jump in the last week, and expect those prices to go higher even though Apalachicola remains unaffected.

Oysters are still on the menu at Albany's seafood restaurants, but for how long is anyone's guess.

"He said 'Austin you're going to call me one day and I'm going to tell you, you can't have oysters, so it's just kind of touch and go everyday,'" said Austin Newman of  Austin's BBQ & Oyster Bar.

While the limited harvest has continued in the gulf, in the last week, Austin's Bar-B-Que and Oyster Bar has seen prices for a bushel jump as much as 8 percent and worry it's just the beginning.

"As supply goes down, demand stays the same, the prices are going to increase and the people who want to pay the higher price will and those who don't want to pay the higher price won't," said Newman.

At AJ's Oyster Bar, the crisis in the gulf has brought more customers through the door. "I think they're worried that there may not be any for years to come," said AJ's Oyster Bar Owner Karen Cook.

They've stopped selling bushels to the public worried about their own supply. "We don't sell our bushels, you know we try to hold on to what we have," said Cook.

Austin's says if the prices get too high, ultimately they'll have to pass on the increase to customers. Whether customers are willing to pay upward of 10 dollars a dozen could impact whether they'll keep selling them.

Oyster harvesters still on the water say they know the end is inevitable. With temperatures heating up they're also battling the thermometer and aren't able to harvest after 11:30 in the morning.

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