Hurricane Ida decimates Louisiana’s multi-billion dollar seafood industry

Seafood industry impacted by Hurricane Ida
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 10:37 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Hurricane Ida dealt a major blow to Louisiana’s seafood industry. The multi-billion dollar business is one of the biggest economic drivers in the state but is now left reeling after this latest storm surge.

“Literally right up like a gut punch like no other. There is no worst spot for a hurricane to come in and affect the seafood industry like where Hurricane Ida came in,” said Tommy Cvitanovich, owner of Drago’s Restaurant.

Cvitanovich said Ida forced oyster beds all along the gulf coast to shut down.

In order for them to reopen The Department of Health must conduct a safety inspection and test for any contamination.

On top of that, he said you also have to consider the fishermen that lost equipment in the storm or those that were displaced.

Coupling all those factors, he said this can take days or even weeks to get things back on track depending on the initial test results, but it could take even longer thanks to Tropical Storm Nicholas.

“All of that water now is coming into where our fresh seafood is, and that’s why they have to go out there and test that water so the more rain we get, the further and further that puts us back behind the 8 ball,” said Cvitanovich.

Cvitanovich said this has caused problems with supply and demand. He said a lot of restaurants will either shell out more money to keep the product on the menu or simply go without.

“It’s just every restaurant has to make their decisions on where they’re going to go, how they’re going to get it, if they get it, and how much their willing to pay for it,” said Cvitanovich

At Acme Oyster House, CEO Paul Rotner said they’re pulling a shipment from Virginia to make sure they have enough oysters on hand.

He believes the longer this goes on, businesses could continue to lose out on a lot of money. In his case, he says they’re already paying a hefty price.

“We’re talking thousands of dollars. When I’m talking about thousands, we’re talking maybe $300,000 to $400,000 a week,” said Rotner.

In the meantime, they’re hopeful things will return back to normal.

“We’ll get there. We’ll recover. We’re resilient. Louisiana’s always been good about coming back, so Louisiana will come back stronger and better than ever,” said Rotner.

Cvitanovich said the Department of Health should resume testing to reopen the oyster beds Saturday, Sept. 18.

According to a representative from the Lt. Governor’s office, 71% of all gulf seafood comes through Louisiana.

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