Although Tulsa is hundreds of miles away from the location of the BP oil spill, the mess has slid its way into affecting local businesses.
"There's just not any boats out fishing," said Gene Pounds, director of operations for Bodean's Seafood Market and restaurant. "With a limited supply, the demand is not going to curve."
In April, BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 and initiating the United States' largest oil spill in history. Scientists have estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil leaking from the well per day.
With much of the fishing areas closed in the gulf off of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, fishing companies are going to areas near Texas to fish for products. Companies all over the world are now going to this one area for their products, putting a strain on the supply and on business owners' wallets. Others are turning to other parts of the ocean in an attempt to keep their supply fully stocked.
With no immediate end to the spread of the oil in sight, these businesses are looking into ways to continue selling their products without too much of an increase in prices.
"We haven't been affected by the shortage, but the prices are starting to go up," Pounds said. "Those people who were buying it off the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coasts are having to go other places for it. It's putting more demand on the non-polluted areas."
Pounds said he has seen the most impact in prices on shrimp that Bodean's ships in from the Gulf of Mexico. So far, with harvesting companies fishing closer to the Texas coast to avoid the affected area, the price of raw shrimp has gone up about $4 per pound, starting at about $13 and now being sold for $17. As a major supplier of seafood products to local restaurants, Pounds said this quickly adds up.
"It gets expensive when you buy shrimp like we do at 20 to 25,000 pounds at a time," he said
Ed Richard has been seeing similar problems at his business. As the owner of Hebert's Cajun Specialty Meats, Richard specializes in southern Louisiana style foods, which includes anything from alligators and crawfish to oysters and crab. The products he buys from food purveyors from the gulf have gone up about 8 percent in price, he said.
"So many people are buying because they're afraid they're not going to be able to get it," Richard said. "Some of the supply problems are based on the fact that other people are buying quantities to stock up. About four weeks ago, we also bought a bunch of shrimp, so I have plenty of supply here."
Richard expects the price increase to continue and is prepared to take action if the spill proves to be a long-term problem, he said.
"Unfortunately, we'll probably get shrimp from other countries," he said. "We have spoken to our food purveyors, and they have access to other shrimp.
If something happens to the gulf supply, we'll switch over."
Other companies are already making the switch.
"We don't know about the future," Pounds said. "We've already started procuring shrimp from Mexico. Even the shrimp from Mexico is starting to get harder to come by. If it goes up on the east coast, it's going to be a problem."
Shrimp is not the only product from the gulf that is forcing these businesses to come up with back-up plans. Crab has seen a slight increase in prices and is expected to continue to climb as fishers enter into crab season. Oysters are also expected to take a hit. Richard said the beds where he gets his oysters are currently closed.
"This happened right at the end of oyster season," he said. "We generally don't carry a lot of them until we get back into September. Unfortunately, if the beds are still shut down in Louisiana, we'll get oysters from the Texas coast."
Bodean's already receives its oyster supply from the Texas coast.
"If (the spill) gets over into Texas, there probably won't be many gulf oysters," Pounds said. "We'll have to go with the more expensive west and east coast oysters, and they're about twice the price."
West and east coast oysters are about $2 to $2.25 a pound compared to the $1 gulf oysters, Pounds said.
As the oil spill continues to spread, Pounds said the ban on fishing might continue to spread as well, affecting the gulf fish Bodean's supplies in the Tulsa area.
"Grouper, you may just not see those at certain times," he said.
Even with an uncertain future for life in the gulf, the prices have not risen in Bodean's or Hebert's restaurants.
"We've decided we're going to leave them like they are and see what happens by the end of the summer," Richard said. "We'll hold on tight and just wait."
The prices have changed in the market section of Bodean's, Pounds said. However, the rise in prices in the market mirrors the same change Bodean's has encountered with the food purveyors.
"We try to absorb the biggest portions of that," Pounds said. "Our margins are being affected, of course."
Employees from both restaurants said as media coverage of the spill built, so did customers' questions and anxiety over the seafood products. With Hebert's shipping meat products throughout the country, the restaurant has always had a USDA agent who inspects produce daily.
Pounds said he and other employees are regularly reassuring customers.
"The biggest question we get is if the product is compromised," he said. "They're not allowed to harvest from those areas. They're not even allowed to get close to the affected areas now. The quality is there. That's not compromised."
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