shrimp

Craving shrimp, crab, oysters and other seafood indigenous to the Gulf Coast?

Good luck finding them.

Supermarkets and restaurants are taking fish and seafood off their menus—a result of the British Petroleum oil spill that’s threatening area wildlife and marine animals.

And if you do happen to locate these ocean delicacies, expect to pay a substantial premium.

Todd Waldschmidt, manager and seafood buyer for Peoria, IL-based Jonah’s Seafood House, told the Peoria Journal Star that the greatest price increases may be felt toward summer’s end. Similarly, restaurants and grocers from New York to California may be forced to jack up prices or source seafood from overseas.

A $2.5 Billion Price Tag

As the Environmental Defense Fund notes:

“A huge fraction of the fish production in the region is at risk—a body blow both to marine ecosystems and the multibillion-dollar coastal industries tied to commercial fishing and seafood, and sport fisheries and recreation. It is especially sad that this catastrophe threatens the fishing communities of the Gulf that have become national leaders in transforming ocean fisheries to models of sustainability.”

CNBC reports the ultimate price tag for spill cleanup may exceed $14 billion. As for the seafood industry, Louisiana could lose $2.5 billion.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has restricted fishing in the area, and its scientists are testing water and seafood samples.

“There are finfish, crabs, oysters and shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico near the area of the oil spill,” confirms NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Administrator Roy Crabtree. “The Gulf is such an important biologic and economic area in terms of seafood production and recreational fishing.”

NOAA estimates that Gulf Coast commercial fishermen, whose livelihoods depend on healthy seas, harvested more than 1 billion pounds of finfish and shellfish in 2008.