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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bahamas: Sea food industry eyes oil slick

Sea food industry eyes oil slick
By INDERIA SAUNDERS ~ Guardian Business Reporter ~

One of the country's largest lobster exporters - holding Olive Garden and Red Lobster contracts - is taking a wait and see approach to the oil spill shifting to The Bahamas, a stance spurred by the current closed season.

It means many local companies like Ronald's Seafood in Spanish Wells will not be in a position to fill any immediate demand for lobster or crawfish until September when the season is opened again. The spill shift, however, could materialize into bad news for other fishermen who depend on the marine life to put bread on the table.

Co-owner of Ronald's Bill Albury said the company would take things one day at a time, monitoring the effects of the oil spill's shift into Bahama waters as millions of gallons of oil still gush into the Gulf following an oil rig explosion on April 20.

"It's not having an effect on us right now because the season is closed for this period," Albury told Guardian Business. " But we don't want anything bad to happen."

It's a statement that comes as a top local meteorologist confirms a shift in wind patterns will most likely slide the oil slick into Bahama waters by the weekend. The surface winds are expected to propel the slick in a more easterly direction to the Cay Sal banks, Bimini and Western Grand Bahama area.

The degree to which Bahamian fishermen - a multi-million dollar industry in The Bahamas - will be affected is yet to be determined. However, for many businesses the oil spill couldn't have come at a worse time, given tough economic conditions already slicing into sales for those in the industry.

"We're already finding it hard to sell what little we could catch now because people just don't have the money to be buying like how they used to," said Marcian Dean, a Potters Cay fish vendor, in an interview with the Nassau Guardian. "Now imagine if this oil spill comes and contaminates the water and kills off the marine life.

"We wouldn't have anything to fish for and that would mean thousands of people would be out a job."

It's a situation currently playing itself out in.

May 26, 2010