Gulf oil spill is affecting Pine Belt businesses

By Ontario Richardson – bio | email | Twitter

PINE BELT, MS (WDAM) - The Gulf Coast oil spill has turned some Pine Belt businesses upside down.

Remy Bozant, owner of The Whaft Seafood Market in Petal, said his business has dropped tremendously since the Gulf oil spill.

"A lot of people are scared to eat seafood right now.  They don't know what the fish has swallowed, if it ate a dead fish that had been swimming in the oil."

Bozant says the seafood which he receives is not contaminated.  Although business is down, the price of fish has remained the same and the price of shrimp has climbed about 25 percent.  Bozant comes from a family of fishermen and said emotions are running high and tempers are flaring over how BP has handled things.

"We are all kind of hurt," he said. "We are all trying to figure out what we are going to do next. There is a lot of turmoil, a lot of arguing, and fighting. Everybody is just trying to figure out where they want to go or what they want to do next. "

Meanwhile, in Ellisville, Da B'z Diner is feeling similar frustration. Owner Chris Breedlove said  his business has dropped due to fear.

"We have only sold two shrimp meals all day. There's a consumer paranoia about the safety of the product right now. The product is safe and there is nothing for people to be worried about."

Breedlove said he went from selling nearly 200 pounds of shrimp a day to about 50.

Both owners said they will remain open for business but in order to survive the oil crisis they'll have to expand their menus to burgers and fries.

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