Katrina Not Even Close To This: Gulf Oyster Supplier

“Katrina does not even come close," says John Tesvich, about the current situation on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana.

Thomas Viguier | AFP | Getty Images

Tesvich is president of Ameripure Processing Company,based out of Franklin, Louisiana. Last Friday, Tesvich had to lay off 48 people at his firm which shut down operations and had to tell seafood giant Darden Restaurants that Ameripure could no longer supply them with oysters.

It’s not just the presence of oil creating problems. Now, there are no boats to even harvest oyster beds that are open. All of them are being used to manage the spill.

No boats. No oysters. No jobs.

“This shakes us to the bone,” says Tesvich, who has been able to keep his salaried employees because of payments from BP. “They made payments (to us) for May and June, and it’s about 85-percent of what we asked for. BP has been cooperating so far.”

As for the laid-off workers, they received $1,500 from BPand are scheduled to meet with Tesvich and BP to discuss future options.

“I would like to have them back when we re-open, hopefully in the fall,” Tesvich said.

Right now, the money coming from BP is helping people and businesses survive, but it does not clarify how they’ll be compensated for future losses.

“We are being paid for subsistence,” Tesvich says. “At some point, we need to look at the long-term damage and losses.”

Ameripure isn’t the sole supplier for Darden, but it is a major one. According to Darden, which has Red Lobster and Capital Grille in its portfolio,Red Lobster probably will run out of oysters in July. Capital Grille uses oysters from a different region and should not be affected.