Last weekend, Sal Sunseri, co-owner and vice president of P&J Oyster Company, the oldest oyster processor and distributor in New Orleans, presided over the city’s inaugural Oyster Festival. Throughout, he refused to entertain the notion that, given the closing of many gulf oyster beds because of the oil spill, the first such festival could be the last.
“I’m optimistic,” he told me. “I believe in God and in miracles.”
But the disaster that has already robbed thousands of fishermen of their livelihood led Mr. Sunseri to announce on Thursday that his 134-year-old business has ceased shucking oysters for the time being. He told The Times-Picayune newspaper that he will not shut down his operation entirely because some oysters are still coming in.
But regular production has been halted and he is not sure what will become of P&J and its 19 employees in the long run.