People queued up as usual outside Acme Oyster House in the French Quarter one recent day, while inside the aroma of oysters bubbling on the grill filled the dining room and servers whisked past with trays of po-boys.
But at the marble-topped oyster bar, something was starkly amiss: No one was slurping raw oysters.
Facing a dramatic plunge in the supply of Louisiana oysters, Acme has temporarily stopped serving raw oysters at all seven of its regional restaurants.
“If we can’t get Louisiana oysters, we’re not going to serve raw oysters at all,” Acme CEO Paul Rotner said.
The story reports that the Louisiana oyster harvest has collapsed because of the massive, lengthy spring flooding. All that freshwater devastated the oyster beds. “It’s never been this bad in my lifetime,” says the oyster program manager for the state Wildlife and Fisheries department.
The Bonnet Carre Spillway had to be opened for a long time to relieve pressure on the Mississippi River levees. That sent fresh water cascading through the briny oyster beds. More:
This year marked the first time the Bonnet Carre Spillway was opened twice in the same year, and it set a new record for the number of days it was kept open. It was also the first time the spillway had been opened in two consecutive years.
Experts have attributed the increasing rain and rising water levels that led to its use to climate change.
“If this continues, we‘ll still have oysters, but we won’t have the volumes that we shipped out for years and years and years,” said Jim Gossen, a veteran of the local seafood business and chairman of the Gulf Seafood Foundation.
Read it all, if you can stand it. Hard to imagine New Orleans without raw oysters. Let’s hope the winter brings them back.