Shrimp ScampiIt appears that the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the BP rig disaster has stopped, with the leaking oil capped. Whether it will prove successful in the long term is currently being tested, but it has now been more than 24 hours since the cap was placed with no oil spilling into the Gulf.

This is great news for the entire world, particularly though, for those along the Gulf states long suffering from this crisis one way or another.

But our concern is a gastronomic one. We are concerned about those along the Gulf who’ve made their living fishing the waters of The Gulf, known for its excellent and abundant shrimp and oysters, among other delectable seafood.

Shrimpers, as they’re called, have little to look forward to, and neither have those of us who love Gulf Shrimp. Similarly, oysters from the Gulf are now endangered by the long-term effects of this crisis.

While food safety testing has shown that Gulf seafood has so far proven safe, we’re not so easily convinced. Oysters, for example, being bivalves, filter water through their systems, which means they’ll be soaking up oil that settles to the bottom, or into the oyster beds. Potentially, if the dispersants used remain in the water for any period and prove toxic, those oysters will be absorbing those chemicals and may be unsafe to eat for generations to come.

Gulf shrimpShrimp, also crustaceans swim, unlike their relatively fixed location oyster cousins, and with their swimming, they may have been exposed to oil, gas and chemical dispersants. This is one of the ultimately worst parts of this crisis, as the economy of these states are affected, so too is the market for Gulf seafood for years to come.

It may be decades or even a century before Gulf shrimp and oysters are safe to eat for human consumption. And it may take that long for the creatures themselves to recover from the results of this horrible incident.

Gulf shrimp are considered some of the finest in the world, and some of the most abundant. Hopefully other shrimp will be of sufficient supply to offset the potential loss of these gourmand’s delights. Mayport shrimp for example, we’ve always loved. Rich, buttery and seriously flavorful these delights come from the Jacksonville, Florida area and have always been considered a local treasure by connoisseurs.

No matter what happens, expect that the price of shrimp, no matter where they come from, will rise as a result. Demand remains high, but supplies are likely to be curtailed for years.

One of the other big problems… whether those who may have lost their seafood gathering businesses will ever be able to return, and if not, will we lose one or more generations of expertise, knowledge and tradition in the field? Will subsequent generations know how shrimp or oysters were gathered as their fathers and grandfathers did? Hopefully, the knowledge will be documented, filmed and recorded so that successive generations will be able to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors at some future point.

I’m sure people in the Gulf will hate me for saying all this, but candidly, I can’t blame them and feel heartily sorry. But we’d be doing an injustice to consumers if we didn’t point out the potential risks. Safety is our primary concern.

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