A Look Back at the Galveston Bay Oil Spill and its Impact on the Community

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On March 22nd, 2014, two large commercial ships collided and dumped nearly 170,000 gallons of marine fuel into Galveston Bay in Texas. As the nation’s seventh largest estuary, the impact on the marine life alone was quite devastating–any oil spill usually is–but the impacts of this particular ecological disaster were far greater than anyone could have imagined.

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Aside from being the nation’s seventh largest estuary, Galveston Bay is also the second largest source of commercial seafood in the country (behind Chesapeake Bay). When an oil spill trickles down to the bottom of the food chain and affects animals like crabs and shrimp, the effects snowball to impact larger species and in the case of the 2014 event, virtually every fish, animal and bird was impacted. This in turn has a tremendously negative effect on all sorts of folks, and chances are you and I were impacted too.

While the wildlife took the brunt of the impact, local business were also affected by the spill, as were those that make a living in the area’s multi-billion dollar commercial and recreational fishing industry. In turn those costs eventually made their way to the consumer–like you and me.

Just how much did it affect us, you ask?  Well, while additional factors certainly contributed, seafood prices in 2014 rose nearly 9% by the end of the year. Shrimp, specifically, climbed 12% and crab prices were up 15%. Again, it’s hard to put an exact figure on how much the Galveston Bay incident contributed, but you can be sure that it was partially responsible.

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The point is, just because an oil spill (or any other eco-disaster, for that matter) doesn’t happen in our own backyard, it doesn’t mean we aren’t all impacted. That makes it even more important for us to support responsible policies when it comes to businesses and their environmental protection plans. For many people, the tragic impact on the environment and animals is enough of a reason to join the cause, but in cases like oil spills in major commercial seafood zones, the financial impact should certainly help drive the biggest portion of consumers into action. Whether it’s a gulf shrimp or our own checkbook, nothing makes it out of an eco-disaster without feeling the impact.


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