Fresh oyster. (Photo: Louisiana Seafood News)
Oyster industry benefits from preparing for Hurricane Isaac
Monday, September 03, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
Chief Executive of US oyster processing giant Motivatit Seafoods Mike Voisin believes the impact of Hurricane Isaac is still unfolding, as he is waiting for the second half of the storm to take place and hoping it would be less severe than the first one.
“In the next seven days, we’ll have a much clearer picture,” he said last week in Louisiana.
Voisin believes that in the next couple of weeks, the fresh market for some oyster species will be “dry,” and that hopefully Louisiana health officials will be doing water sampling in oyster areas in the next few days.
Normally, most oyster areas are reopened 7-10 days after a storm.
While Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew, among others, swept through the state in a few hours, Isaac moved slowly through Louisiana with winds of up to 85-90 mph and took nine to ten hours to traverse its path.
“I’ve been through a lot of storms. This one seemed to have more intensity, lasting a longer period of time,” Voisin commented.
|Motivatit Seafoods lost electricity Tuesday night when Isaac hit. A reduced staff spent Wednesday morning putting product – 80,000 to 90,000 pounds of oysters – in refrigerated trucks and coolers packed with extra ice. The product is safely stored for several days but processing has shut down until fishing resumes.( Photo: Louisiana Seafood Board)
“The immediate impact is that fresh product will be in short supply after the storm,” he foretold.
Meanwhile, some people will have frozen product, depending on the species they can sell. During this period, oyster prices probably will not fluctuate much from the norm, Voisin opined.
Before Isaac hit Louisiana proper, fishers had plenty of warning to move their vessels inland and secure them.
“For every mile you are from the coast, it breaks the storm surge down by about a foot,” Voisin points out. “So, if it’s a 10-ft storm surge (at the coast) and you can get in 10 mi, by the time it gets to you it is going to be a tide rise.”
|Fisherman will once again be providing plenty of fresh oysters for the grill once waters are tested and actuaries opened. (Photo: Louisiana Seafood News)
The company is situated in Houma, about 30 mi inland, where Voisin had 20 vessels moored before Hurricane Isaac hit. He believes most oyster fishing vessel owners were fortunate enough to secure their boats, too.
On Monday last week, Louisiana officials closed shellfish areas as a precaution because oysters are eaten as a raw product.
State health officials will begin testing the water in oyster beds by this weekend or earlier if they can, Voisin said.
If there are problems -- such as debris which can suffocate oysters or pollution from extensive drainage or wash-off from the land -- in certain areas, they could be kept closed.
Otherwise, oyster fishers usually are given a day to check the bottom and their beds for damage. Typically, things are relatively back to normal in a couple of weeks, he added.
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