Hurricane Ida shakes up supply chain for Birmingham’s fish markets, restaurants

Local News
October 02 2021 06:00 pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As Hurricane Ida made its way through the Gulf region, it also shook up the supply chains for many of Alabama’s fish markets and restaurants.

Ida left businesses and fishermen with wrecked properties, making it impossible for any of them to do their jobs for days. At Snapper Grabbers Land & Sea in Vestavia Hills, head chef Tim Hughes’ fish case is near empty.

At Snapper Grabbers Land & Sea in Vestavia Hills, Hurricane Ida has left Head Chef Tim Hughes’ fish case relatively empty.

“Usually, we average about 20 species of fish,” Chef Hughes said. “When a storm like this comes through, especially hitting that much of the Gulf, it’s almost impossible to get a lot of good fish.

According to Hughes, they’ve learned to source their fish from various parts of the globe to avoid storms like Ida. Storms in the Gulf cause issues for both shallow and deep water fishermen, as well as fish like snappers, groupers, and more.

Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a category 4 storm, knocking out power for the entire city and surrounding areas.

“We have worked really hard to get a variety of vendors around the United States,” Hughes said. “There’s about 16 different vendors that we use. Everything from Alaska, to California, to Hawaii to about nine all around the panhandle.”

Hughes said fish markets have to be ready for all of Mother Nature’s curveballs.

“If you rely solely on one, you’re going to go out of business quick,” he said. “If it hits Louisiana, you have to go to Miami. If it hits Texas, you’re making your way around the panhandle to make sure you’re getting quality stuff.”

Fish markets have to be ready for all of Mother Nature’s curveballs, according to Chef Hughes.

As far as when his case will be stocked up again, Hughes said he doesn’t expect Ida to cause more than a couple days worth of supply issues.

“Boats are supposed to be going back out [Wednesday],” he said. “By the end of this week, we’ll start seeing a lot of really really good product. The weird thing about storms is that it stirs up the water and fish get a lot more active. But you’ve got to get fishermen out there to deal with that.”

While a number of scenarios are possible, Hughes said he’s confident his case will be replenished by the weekend.

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