Although more than 90% of the shrimp consumed in the United States is imported, the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is already having a significant impact on wholesale shrimp prices throughout the seafood industry.
The price of wild shrimp caught in the Gulf has risen about 63% since the spill began closing off large areas of the Gulf to commercial fishing, according to a report in the Financial Times.
And, prices for imported white shrimp have risen more than 17% due to fears of shortages in the market, according to a separate report last week by the Wall Street Journal. Those prices could stabilize or fall as overseas farmed shrimp producers begin ramping up production to meet demand.
Prices for oysters are also up 33% across the board, and those prices are likely headed higher. More than two-thirds of oysters consumed in the U.S. are sourced from the Gulf, and the spill recently caused AmeriPure, one of the largest oyster suppliers in the U.S., to temporarily cease operations.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have enhanced their inspection efforts to ensure that shrimp and other seafood sourced from the Gulf is uncontaminated and safe to eat. However, despite those efforts, the region's shrimp production has fallen to about 30% of its typical volume during this point of the season.