Seafood dealers worried about life after crawfish season


June 11, 2010 at 8:56 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Heath Folse, the owner of Bayou Bounty Seafood, digs into a nearly empty freezer. Folse said that he can’t get crabs or oysters and recently purchased shrimp from Texas.
Jonathan Menard
Heath Folse, the owner of Bayou Bounty Seafood, digs into a nearly empty freezer. Folse said that he can’t get crabs or oysters and recently purchased shrimp from Texas.
For the last few months, Blandon Zeringue, of Zeringue’s Seafood, has kept his eyes glued to the television screen as he watches BP’s ongoing efforts to cap the Gulf oil leak.

“It’s a scary feeling when this is something that you’ve done all your life and your livelihood depends on it,” he said. “We have been watching this unfold on TV and every day it gets more disgusting.”

Less than a mile up the road, Heath Folse, owner of Bayou Bounty Seafood, listens to the news on the radio while waiting for the occasional customer.

“I’ve been here for 10 years and I’m not sure if I’ll be here next year,” he said. “Thankfully, everything is paid off and I would just have to find another job.”

Zeringue and Folse are among the many seafood distributors that are facing an uncertain future. Both said that they are lucky it’s still crawfish season.

“They are just getting started in the spillway,” Zeringue said. “They haven’t gotten big yet, but if the water gets right crawfish season could go through July and into early August.”

Folse agrees.

“It’s been a slower crawfish season than in previous years, but people are still coming in and buying them,” he said. “After the season’s over though, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Folse said he is unable to get in crabs or oysters and that he recently purchased fresh shrimp from Texas. It was the first batch that he had received in a week.

“It’s getting to where I have to call 10 different places to try to find shrimp,” he said. “When I do find it, I’m paying $1.50 to $2 more a pound.

“If the price keeps going up, I’m not sure people will even try to buy shrimp.”

When the oil leak first occurred, Folse said he had residents coming into his store buying loads of shrimp to stock in their freezers.

Now, most residents are only buying catfish or crawfish.
“Even when I get shrimp, some people are concerned about the quality,” he said.

Bayou Bounty has also taken a big hit on their internet site. In the past, the store successfully shipped seafood all across the country using the web site. Now, Folse said his internet business has “dried up” due to national concerns about the quality of Louisiana seafood.

Zeringue said he has had a little more luck when purchasing fresh shrimp and that he believes he will be able to get them in for another month.

“They just aren’t plentiful,” he said. “I’m just taking a wait and see approach.”




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