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Posted at 3:41 PM ET, 06/21/2010

BP spill affecting local seafood prices

By Peter Galuszka

Now that BP has agreed to a $20 billion fund to help repair damage from its massive oil spill, some of the companies standing in line for compensation might be from the waterfronts of the Old Dominion.

The oil from the Deepwater Horizon hasn't flowed up to the mid-Atlantic coast just yet. The impacts come from just how interconnected the U.S. seafood industry is.

For example, Chesapeake Bay oyster harvests have been horribly depleted during the 20th century because of disease, overfishing and pollution. But there is still an oyster industry.

A number of fish-packing houses in Virginia have oysters trucked in from the Gulf of Mexico, where they are shucked, processed and packaged. Two examples are Shores & Ruark Seafood in Urbanna and L.D. Amory & Co. in Hampton. Both have seen supplies of gulf oysters, which are cheaper and far more plentiful than local kinds, go down about 60 percent.

Retail oyster prices are increasing and in some cases have doubled. Shrimp prices are up as well.

Mitigating the problem is the fact that more than 80 percent of all seafood consumed in the United States is imported, but much of that is farm-raised and can be tasteless. And there are likely to be cases where vendors price-gouge to take advantage of the gulf disaster.

It is hard to get beyond the gloom. Last week, I was vacationing on North Carolina's Outer Banks, where a retailer at Buxton Seafood told me that mackerel prices might jump more than 300 percent, to $20 a pound, by summer's end.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | June 21, 2010; 3:41 PM ET
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Can I put in a claim?

Posted by: linda_521 | June 23, 2010 4:57 AM | Report abuse

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