Ala seafood leaders gathering in Mobile

Alabama seafood industry leaders gathering in Mobile, aim to boost demand

Associated Press

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- Leaders of Alabama's seafood industry gathered Tuesday to discuss ways to increase demand for their products.

Officials from the governor to coastal industry executives took part in the Alabama Seafood Summit, held at the Mobile Convention Center.

Before the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, officials estimated the seafood industry had an economic impact of more than $445 million in the state and accounted for more than 10,000 jobs.

"The economic impact of the seafood industry in Alabama has been reduced nearly $100 million annually since the spill," said Chris Blankenship, director of Alabama Marine Resources and head of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission.

Blankenship said the state's seafood industry needs to regain market share, which was the goal of the summit.

While industry leaders suspect some consumers were scared away from seafood by the oil spill, officials said tests repeatedly have shown no lingering after effects on seafood.

"Our agriculture department food safety lab has conducted ongoing tests on Alabama Gulf seafood and has found their quality to be without question," Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said in a statement.

Participants in the meeting included trade officials, seafood buyers and representatives from the restaurant industry. More than 100 individuals and groups were expected.

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