Posted on May 22, 2014 at 6:21 PM
Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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As his son hauls in an oyster dredge from the floor of Barataria Bay, lifelong oyster harvester Mitch Jurisich, normally an optimistic man, is worried that the size of the catch is shrinking.
“I’m concerned, very concerned,” Jurisich said. “Last year was about the last year of harvesting pre-BP oysters, now we’re looking post-BP, and now looks not good.”
His son Nathan, the fourth generation oysterman, said they are harvesting far fewer oysters.
“Last year at this time I was bringing in 200-250 sacks a day, now we’re 100-150, sometimes less,” said Nathan.
There could be multiple causes, but they’re finding many dead oysters, especially baby oysters.
“There’s nothing live on this shell,” pointed out Mitch Jurisich. “There should be, but this is dead, this is a shell. It’s very upsetting because that’s the future.”
Restaurant owners are taking notice.
“They’re obviously scarce, because the price has gone up,” said Scot Craig of Katie’s Restaurant. “We’ve had to go up a little bit on prices as a result.”
“The cost of the oysters are actually as much as double,” said P&J Oysters Owner Al Sunseri.
At P&J Oysters, the supply is so low the cooler is nearly empty.
“How much is supply down? I would say it is about halfway,” said Sunseri.
They’re getting ready for the Oyster Festival, May 31 and June 1. It’s the fifth festival. Ironically, the first one was in 2010. But this year they say they’ll have plenty of oysters.
“Probably go through about 80,000 oysters, but truly an event that everyone should enjoy, the food the music in that one spot,” said Sal Sunseri, P&J Oysters Owner and Oyster Fest Founder. “It’s got to be the best brunch in the world.”
Special thanks to Richard Charter