Oyster Industry Convention

The oyster industry was hit especially hard by last year’s oil spill. Millions in profits were lost and hundreds of oyster fishermen still find themselves out of work. So, at this year’s Oyster Industry Convention the overwhelming question is; when will the bleeding stop?

It was a colossal change in tenor at this year’s Louisiana Oyster Industry Convention, coming on the back of the BP oil spill, drawing a greater crowd, all feeling greater urgency to get back to work.

“I’m out of business because of the oil spill and the fresh water” says Wilbert Collins of Collins Oyster Company.

In the 90 years his family has owned Collins Oyster Company, including the 61 years he’s been on the job, Wilbert Collins says this is the first year he has not sold a single oyster.

“It’s a complete and total loss when it comes to the oyster industry and I don’t see no future in the next two years for sure.”

The pressure is shared by his son…a fourth generation oyster fisherman. Its’ my job, it’s my life, it’s awesome…and not having it is a disturbing thing” says Nick Collins.

That sentiment is echoed by most of the people at this year’s convention. Millions of dollars in profits lost among them this year…with no end in sight.

“will it take 6 years, or 10 years, we don’t know. On the resource side, there’s still a lot of questions. There’s still a lot of research in place and hopefully we’ll start seeing some young oysters coming up” says John Tesvich with the Louisiana Oyster Dealer and Growers Association.

That is why John Tesvich will join others in Washington this week, to talk about rehabilitating the Gulf Coast, and the image of Gulf Seafood with an emphasis on the oyster industry as well as coastal restoration.

But, something that will be stressed to Senators Vitter and Landrieu, along with other representatives of Gulf states in Washington this week.

“We’re pushing to see that we get a coastal congressman which would address all the coastal issues which are so dear to all the coastal parishes” says Billy Nungesser Plaquemines Parish President.

So these oyster fishermen…and others in the business of gulf seafood…can get their lives, and livelihoods back to normal.

Bob Greene

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