If you want oysters, whether for turkey dressing or on the half shell, be ready to shell out some serious money. They're more expensive than they've been for 15 years, $20 to $25 a sack at the dock, approaching $40 a sack for retail.
Damage from Hurricane Ivan is part of the reason. Heavy seasonal demand and rising demand in the East Coast are the rest.
Saltwater and sediment stirred up in September by Ivan killed an estimated 263-thousand sacks of Louisiana oysters, worth as much as six$6.6 million at current wholesale prices. Similar losses were experienced in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.
The collapse of the Chesapeake Bay's oyster fishery has meant rising demand there for Gulf Coast oysters.
Then there's seasonal demand in south Louisiana, where oyster dressing is a tradition -- as, for that matter, are oysters in general.
All told, this year's prices are 40 to 70 percent above the $14 per-sack average of the past three years. Mike Voisin, a Houma oyster fisher and chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, says it's the highest price since 1989.
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