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Spill Forces Layoffs In 'Seafood Capital Of The World'


Many fishermen have been hit hard by the oil spill. A number of commercial fishing grounds are now closed, and that's reduced the supply and raised the price of seafood.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Phoebe Judge reports.

PHOEBE JUDGE: It looked like business as usual at Crystal Seas Seafood yesterday in Pass Christian, Mississippi, where employees spent the day shucking oysters. But on Monday, half of the 120 employees at Crystal Seas were laid off.

Manager Jennifer Jenkins says the oil spill and fishing ban have limited their oyster supply.

M: This has had a big effect on us, and they're going to have a lot of lost wages, among the 60 that are left.

JUDGE: Oyster prices at Crystal Seas have gone up by 25 percent in the last two weeks.

Down the road at Desportes Seafood in Biloxi, manager Sean Desportes says shrimp are so scarce, and the price is so high, he's worried he'll need to rely on imports.

M: It's terrible for our local fishermen and for us, you know, that, you know, our seafood is so much better - better tasting and, you know, it's going to hurt our economy because, you know, we're known - down here in Biloxi - we're known for being the seafood capital of the world. And we don't want to change that now.

JUDGE: The American Shrimp Processing Association says the industry was already dealing with low shrimp stocks before the oil slick. And it's not just Mississippi that now has higher seafood prices. Restaurants from Florida to Pennsylvania are also charging more.

For NPR News, I'm Phoebe Judge in Gulfport, Mississippi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Phoebe Judge is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured on a numerous national radio programs. She regularly conducts interviews and anchors WUNC's broadcast of Here & Now. Previously, Phoebe served as producer, reporter and guest host for the nationally distributed public radio program The Story. Earlier in her career, Phoebe reported from the gulf coast of Mississippi. She covered the BP oil spill and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for Mississippi Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio. Phoebe's work has won multiple Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards. Phoebe was born and raised in Chicago and is graduate of Bennington College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
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