‘It’s going to be a long recovery’: Louisiana seafood industry hurts post-Ida

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — If you’re having a seafood craving, it might cost you more than usual or you might not even find it on the menu due to a shortage following Hurricane Ida.

A large portion of seafood farmers are located in Terrebonne, Jefferson and Lafourche parishes where Hurricane Ida left the most impact. Therefore the restaurant industry is now affected, with fishermen out of business.

“How about no oysters? That’s like McDonald’s without hamburgers, are you kidding me?” said Tommy Cvitanovich, Drago’s owner.

According to Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, the nation depends on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast for seafood.

“We’re number one or two next to Alaska in seafood production every year, so when Louisiana is shut down it affects the rest of the country,” he said.

The low supply is forcing some Baton Rouge restaurants to temporarily shuck oysters off the menu. Drusilla Seafood is only carrying fried oysters as of Thursday.

“We stopped serving oysters for a while, we got lucky we got a couple [of] loads out of Texas. We only had a few shifts where we had to say no to oysters,” said Cvitanovich.

Oysters are back at Dragos but some menu prices have increased due to the coronavirus pandemic and Hurricane Ida.

Drago’s owner Tommy Cvitanovich says some oyster beds along the Gulf Coast are reopening, but the majority of them still need help.

“It’s turned up the docks, damaged the boats, the fishermen their homes have been they need to return to their homes,” Cvitanovich said.

Reopening seafood farms after a natural disaster is a process. The Department of Health has to conduct a full inspection.

“It’s going to be a long recovery. We will be there until everyone is back in their home,” said Nungesser.

Nungesser will visit the bayou parishes on Friday to meet with fishermen and evaluate what sort of federal assistance they need to get back to work and be back at home.

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