Hurricanes Add to Gulf Seafood Industry Woes

BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. (AP) - Hurricane Gustav left shrimp rotting on vessels across southeastern Louisiana, where fishing communities without power also lack ice.

It knocked some oyster boats from the harbor to the highway on the Mississippi coast.

And oyster reefs in the region remain closed until officials determine they're safe from storm debris.

Yet despite these effects, much of the commercial seafood industry in the Gulf of Mexico was spared major losses by Gustav, and any potential rise in seafood prices was blunted by an abundance of imports.

The threat from Hurricane Ike is substantial, however - particularly for shrimpers, oystermen and fish processors in coastal Louisiana and the rest of the northern Gulf still recovering from Gustav. They were already seeing profit margins squeezed by the healthy imports.

Vessels avoided damage in Texas, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, where fishermen had time to find safe harbor before Gustav struck.

Among those spared was Bayou La Batre, an Alabama fishing village that recently recovered after being wiped out in 2005 by Katrina.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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