Gauging the Effects of the Gulf Oil Spill

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Sacramento diners are likely to see fewer shrimp on local restaurant menus this summer, thanks to the gulf oil spill. Shrimp prices have already begun to creep up, according to Doyle Bailie, a sales rep for San Francisco-based Ports Seafood, which supplies Mulvaney’s Building & Loan, The Waterboy, Spataro and other Sacramento restaurants. While Ports typically gets its wild gulf shrimp from the largely unaffected western portion of the gulf, many of the region’s shrimp fishermen have been redeployed to help clean up the spill. Ports sources much of its other fish from the Florida portion of the gulf, which hasn’t been affected by the spill. “We haven’t seen a large problem yet,” said Bailie. “But we don’t know how it will impact us down the road.” At The Firehouse Restaurant in Old Sac, executive chef Deneb Williams reported he hasn’t experienced much in the way of supply or price issues yet. For one thing, he gets most of his fish from Pacific waters. But he expects to see his oyster prices rise as chefs around the country turn to other sources besides the gulf. Williams even predicts there will be price gouging. “There’ll be a certain amount of ‘let’s raise prices because we can,’” he said. What does that mean for you and me? Fewer, pricier shrimp and oysters on our plates this summer.