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Oil And Seafood Industry Don't Mix

TUCKER, GA (May 13, 2010)—An Atlanta business is starting to feel the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and that means you could be next.

Inland Seafood, a seafood distributor in Tucker, gets 30-percent of its seafood from the Gulf. It is the largest seafood distributor in the southeast.

Inland Seafood supplies many of the restaurants where you eat and many of the grocery stores where you shop.

Inland's Chief Executive Officer said the biggest impact of the oil spill has been on the price of oysters. "We're expecting a good load in from the panhandle of Florida tomorrow (Thursday), and that may be the last that we get in," said Joel Knox.

The Gulf coast of Louisiana is the biggest producer of oysters in the south. There is only one pallet holding 42 cases of oysters in a cooler at Inland. Knox said normally they have 300-cases in stock. He said his supply is 80-percent of what's normal and the price has doubled.

The same thing might happen with shrimp when the season opens in the Gulf on May 15th. But it won't have a big impact on the price you pay in the store. Knox said 82-percent of the shrimp we eat comes from outside the United States.

Thirty-percent of the fresh fish distributed by Inland comes from the Gulf. But Knox doesn't see the price of fish like swordfish, grouper, red snapper, tuna and amberjack rising like oysters.

He said much of what you're hearing about skyrocketing fish prices is alarmist. He said the oil spill only covers about 6-percent of the surface of the Gulf and there are plenty of places to fish.

But he does admit things could get worse. "The bad case scenario is that you have a tropical storm or a hurricane come into the Gulf and the oil gets dispersed all over the Gulf," Knox said.

In the meantime, the oil continues to leak from the fractured well in the Gulf and no one has a definitive solution. That leaves the seafood industry to ponder many "What if?" scenarios.

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