What the Gulf Oil Spill Means for the Restaurant Industry


The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been predicted to spread as far as Europe and the arctic – and we are already starting to see the devastating effects of the accident. Along with the detrimental destruction to the environment, the spill will also affect much of the Gulf’s wildlife – which means seafood. So how is the oil spill going to affect the restaurant industry?

Chef Tom Colicchio vowed to continue serving seafood from the Gulf, as long as it’s safe of course, after he visited New Orleans in June along with a group of prominent chefs from around the country. His sentiment was shared throughout the group; with chefs pledging to support Louisiana’s fishing industry. The vow comes not without hesitation, though. Sustainable seafood advocator and owner of Las Vegas’ rm seafood, Rick Moonen was quoted saying, “We want to support it, but it scares us a little bit.”

Some restaurants in New Orleans are taking it to the courts. One of the area’s highest regarded chefs, Susan Spicer of the French Quarter’s Bayona restaurant, is suing BP for the lost seafood supply that restaurants will have to endure because of the oil spill. Spicer is seeking class-action status on behalf of the seafood industry and other restaurants who have suffered damage from the spill, including loss of customers due to low tourism, contamination fears and significantly higher prices. More than 250 lawsuits have been filed from the oil spill, it has been predicted that costs will reach into double-digit billions of dollars from BP and Transocean and the cases could stretch on for decades.

Among the many species harmed by the spill, one likely to be majorly effected is the Bluefin Tuna. Already scarce and on the World Conservation Union’s endangered list from years of overfishing, the tuna need clean surface water to spawn – but petroleum from the spill has caused slicks that cover one of only two spawning grounds in the Atlantic for the fish. As Bloomberg Businessweek reports, “The adult fish lay eggs in the Gulf in April and May before heading to the North Atlantic to feed. The tuna may have been covered in oil while chemicals used to break up the oil may damage their eggs, limiting reproduction.”