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Philly's Fiscal Fish

By Luke Hoban, Adrian Franken, Amulya Shankar, Philip Radomski

Early on April 20, 2010, the sound of an explosion from a British Petroleum oil rig resounded throughout the Gulf of Mexico. More than two months later, the oil spill crisis seems to be worsening. Approximately 1.5 million gallons of oil spew into the water each day, negatively affecting the region's economy and food supply. Seafood, a huge part of the gulf's income, is becoming scarce, affecting the abundance of seafood across the nation. As time passes, Philadelphia is feeling more of the effects from the oil spill.

Dick Coyne, manager of Anastasi, a fish market located in Philadelphia's Italian Market on Washington Avenue, says that the oil spill has "definitely effected the price of my products." Coyne receives a variety of seafood from all over the world, from New Zealand to the Mediterranean. For years, he has imported his crab selection from Louisiana farms for their quality and reliability. Coyne has recently been forced to turn to other locations for crab, "We're getting our crabs from the east coast now" spanning from North Carolina to the east coast of Florida. He feels that some of the catch isn't up to his usual quality of standards, but there is not much he can do about it right now.

Since the oil spill, Coyne has noticed significant price increases. "What used to be three or four dollars is now six or seven dollars," Coyne said. Kim Ber, manager of Beck's Cajun Cafe concurs, noting that the price of oysters has increased by 50 cents per oyster. It is likely that prices will continue to rise until the cleanup effort makes significant headway and the local economy stabilizes.

Reading Terminal Market is home to six seafood restaurants and markets. After the oil spill, even the locals are beginning to see effects on the industry in their own backyard. How the economy will be affected in the long run is a concern for customers. Howie Ross describes how the products will be impacted,"I think the products from the region are going to be impacted, but I think that the impact will be more local to the area." Ross believes that "products will be scarce, maybe non-existent," as time passes. A shortage of the seafood that many people are used to in their diets may change some eating habits. Kelly Smith, a Philadelphian, thinks that she will eventually have to give up fish for something more readily available.

Companies are facing setbacks as they try to find other ways to import seafood from around the world. The availability and quality of these replacements are unknown, and companies can only hope that business doesn't suffer. As prices continue to fluctuate, customers are beginning to feel the effects of the situation. Although the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico seems far away, Philadelphia is already feeling some repercussions of the disaster.