Mitchell - What About the Oysters?

Thank you for viewing my presentation. Here's what I would like to know from you: Have you had any negative experiences with availability of oysters?  Do you know anyone directly affected working in the seafood or oyster industry?  What do you think the future holds for all our Gulf Coast seafood and the people depending on it?

To respond to my prompt and to submit any additional comments, questions or personal accounts related to my speech topic, please post in my discussion forum on the “Oil Spill Anniversary Conference” Facebook page. If you do not have a Facebook account, please e-mail me at instead from your personal e-mail account. Please put my name in the e-mail title, so I’m sure to receive your message.

On Thursday, April 21, 2011, at
9:00–10:15 a.m., I will be online to interact with you live via Facebook or e-mail depending on what works best for you. I’m looking forward to communicating with you at that time. Thank you!



Mitchell Jambon

What About the Oysters?

To inform.

As a result of my presentation, my audience will be able to explain the impact the oil spill has had on oysters and those who depend on them to make a living.


[PP: slide 1 Intro]

The Gulf Coast is responsible for approximately 67% of our nation’s oyster supply. According to the Seafood Source website, that equals 250 million pounds per year totaling 300 million dollars in revenue.

Oysters are a big part of the seafood industry, which effects everyone in the seafood business, not just the oyster workers. Many of our Gulf Coast residents depend on, or at least did anyway, without the seafood  industry our whole economy goes down, people lose jobs, homes, and their livelihood.  

I have lived on the Gulf Coast or very close to it my entire life which includes Southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. I know people here and in Louisiana working in the seafood business that have been directly affected by the oil spill. This is including, from what my grandmother told me, that the oyster place down in Dularge, LA where my family has gotten oysters from for decades was closed down.

Today we will discuss how the oil spill has affected the oysters, people, and business reliant upon them.

I will elaborate on some long term problems with the oysters, the people and businesses that depend on them and when can we expect things to go back to normal.


I. Oysters

Oysters are mollusks, which basically means they are invertebates typically having a calcareous shell that wholly or partially encloses the soft, unsegmented body, including snails, squids, and octopuses.

[PP: slide 2 Clean Oysters]

  A. Long-term effects

    1. These shells are described as calcareous, meaning they are formed mostly of calcium-carbonate; with a continuous build cycle.

    2. Oysters can build toxins into their shells according to which is an environmental science site started by Rhett Butler, a well known scientist.


[PP: slide 3 Oyster Close-up]

    1.With the oil spill comes an great influx of harmful heavy metals and hydrocarbons. These metals can actually serve as a calcium-carbonate replacement in the build cycle.

    2.Some of these metals and hydro-carbons can be very dangerous. Metals such as vanadium and nickel are two very common elements in crude oil according to the mongabay website.

     (a)These substances are well known for staying in the food chain for a while. The problem here lies in the fact that some hydrocarbons are known carcinogens.

     (b)Good news, these hydrocarbons do break down naturally over time.


[PP: slide 4 Oiled Oyster]

A. Industry
  1.Big oyster companies have closed their doors due to the oil spill.

     (a)Around 5,000 jobs involve oysters in Louisiana alone according to B.P.’s website; not everyone has lost their job or business, but everyone is hurting.

  2. Oyster sales are down at least 25% all over the coast, but especially hit hard was Louisiana.  Everyone suffers from that, from the people who collects the oysters, to those who sell them to us, and of course we feel the financial burden when we go to buy them ourselves.

  3. Just Louisiana alone lost 80% of their main harvest between May and October according to the seafood source website.
    (a) Louisiana is expected to produce only half of its normal amount of oysters for the next several years.

B. Local Business.

[PP: slide 5 Oiled Oyster 2]

  1. Local seafood business is down as well. Shannon Colburn, manager of L&T Seafood Market on Highway 29 and  commercial fisherman, says from looking at the books, overall business is down a full 40% from last year.

  2. At L&T Seafood Market, all of their oysters came from all four states, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, now mostly just from Texas and Florida.

   (a) According to Shannon Colburn, the oysters from Texas have always been the least desirable to have out of the 4 states, with some of the most desirable coming from Apalachicola. Appalachicola has very clean water and an ideal habitat for oysters to flourish.

  3. As far as just the oysters, the price went up from $32 a gallon to $67 a gallon which is a 47.7% increase; that’s an intense mark up for anyone’s standards, a nightmare for a business owner.

  4. Mr. Colburn’s seafood po-boy stand was in business for over 13 years and it went out of business due to the mark up on his supply. "I would have been better off handing everyone that came $2 and told them to get the hell out of here rather, than to make their po-boys."

III. Back to normal
It will be a very long time until things go back to the way they were, maybe longer than anyone has anticipated.

A.  Apalachicola
  1. Apalachicola supplies around 90% of Florida's oysters, according to the oysterguide website.

  2. These oysters are being overharvested dramatically now due to the demand for oysters that were uneffected by the oil spill.

  3. Apalachicola oysters are drastically smaller than before, which is overwhelming evidence that the overharvest of premature oysters is already in full swing.


[PP: slide 6 Clean Oyster]

Well, today we've gotten pretty deep in some oyster business. We’ve talked about the economics of the oyster industry on the Gulf Coast and one of our longtime seafood companies here in town, L&T Seafood Market. We know that local business is down up to 40% and up to 25% across the coast. We also talked about the fact that it will be a long time until our seafood business will return to normal do to oyster population. Also, we discussed a couple serious issues with heavy metals and hydro-carbons and their potential negative effects on the food chain.
Now, with all this negative stuff aside, oysters are known for their resiliency and ability to rebuild its populations. With all of the clean-up efforts and everyone involved, all we can do is hope and pray everything will eventually return to normal.


Oil spill industries affected. (2010, September 17). Retrieved from          


Kramer, L. (2011). Gulf oyster industry on road to recovery. SeafoodSource, (January issue),

Retrieved from

Hance, J. (2010). Researchers begin studying long-term effects of oil spill on marine life,

(, Retrieved from


Jacobson, R. (2011). Apalachicola. Retrieved from


Interview by M. J. Jambon. L & T Seafood Market, Pensacola, FL.

Colburn, S. (2011, February 17).