Gulf Coast Oil Spill Causes Seafood Price Increase in Oklahoma
By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The impact of the Gulf Coast oil spill is hitting home for fresh seafood lovers in Oklahoma. Retailers have to pay more to keep supplies in stock. And those costs are being passed on to customers.
The Gulf is a main source of the fresh seafood Oklahomans buy. But now a large section of is off limits to fishermen. So, retailers have to look elsewhere to buy, which means customers will also pay more.
Fresh seafood is a must for Virginia Elkinis. She's a regular at the Avalon Seafood Market.
"Probably once a week, fresh," Elkinis said.
But now Elkinis is concerned she may no longer be able to afford her weekly indulgence.
"The prices, not just the prices, the quality of the fish," said Elkinis. "I just hope we can still get fish."
Now that the resources coming from the Gulf are limited retailers have to depend more on Hawaii just to keep their stock on hand. Others are doing the same and the cost is going up.
"I've seen 5 to 25 percent increases in bids that we get from fishermen and so forth," Ron Watkins with Avalon Seafood Market said.
That hike trickles down to customers. Shrimp, American Red Snapper and Grouper will all cost more than they did a month ago.
"It hasn't been significant yet, but my thought is that before the summer is over, it's going to be significant," Watkins said.
Despite the concerns the City of Yukon will still go ahead with its festival this weekend which includes Louisiana seafood.
"All the crawfish are farm-raised and they're not coming from the Gulf," said Jan Scott with Yukon Parks and Recreation. "It's in a controlled environment."
But, if consumers need seafood on a regular basis, retailers say they plan to keep supplies on hand.
"I can't say the prices are going to be reasonable, but this isn't going to chase us out of business," Watkins said.
Watkins said there are still areas of the Gulf that are not off limits, so consumers don't need to worry about getting oily or contaminated seafood.