Oyster Supply in Jeopardy

SEPTEMBER 28, 2005 -- The shucking soon may be shocking in North Carolina, thanks to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Katrina virtually shut down the oyster industry in Louisiana, the nation's largest supplier. Oyster beds in Mississippi were affected as well. Hurricane Rita impacted Texas, the nation's second largest supplier of eastern oysters, the kind most popular in coastal North Carolina.

The result might be higher oyster prices in seafood markets, on restaurant menus and in North Carolina fishermen's pockets.

Marc Smith of Captain Jim's Seafood in Morehead City says he saw the price of shucked oysters go up 15 percent, or a dollar a pint, in September. He says he usually gets his shucked oysters out of Louisiana.

T & W Oyster Bar in Peletier paid $41 per gallon of shucked oysters it bought to fry. Restaurant manager Eric Kenerly says he's now paying $45 a gallon.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.