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Who benefits from Gulf oil spill?

Seagulls stand on the beach as concern continues that the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may harm animals in its path in Gulfport, Miss.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Obviously we're all losers from the spill. There's no upside to this kind of environmental damage. There will be serious economic consequences along the Gulf Coast, too. But elsewhere there are going to be some winners.

Rob Schmitz reports from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk.


ROB SCHMITZ: The U.S. imports 90 percent of its shrimp. But if it came down to a popularity contest, our meager domestic supply would win hands-down. Just mentioning Gulf shrimp makes many seafood lovers salivate.

JACK ISAACS: They have a different taste, a difference in flavor. They're really fresh, high-quality product.

Jack Isaacs is an economist for Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Gulf shrimp, says Isaacs, is a brand. So, who would move in if it's not there? Thailand, Indonesia, and Ecuador are the top shrimp exporters to the U.S. The spill is already impacting the Gulf's multi-billion dollar tourism industry. For years, tourists have driven by Georgia's coast on their way south.

But now, says Bill Tipton, head of the Golden Isles visitor's bureau, they're stopping.

BILL TIPTON: We have been seeing an increase in folks looking at our area and telling us they're opting out of the Gulf Coast because of the oil spill at this time, so we're trying to help them as much as we can. But we're also very sympathetic because we do understand it could be us just as easily if it slides around on our side.

Tipton says hotels in his region may start sharing a portion of their windfall bedroom tax with Gulf Coast hotels just to help out. Last, but certainly not least, oil companies are now looking to parts of the world where drilling isn't tied up with new government regulation. Some analysts are pointing to Canada, with its reserves of oilsands. It's a thorny way to extract oil, but now it's not looking too bad.

I'm Rob Schmitz for Marketplace.

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

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