Seafood restaurants react to Lent business without an abundance of blue crabs

Seafood restaurants react to Lent business without an abundance of blue crabs

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Three days into the Lenten season and locals definitely have an insatiable appetite for seafood.

By early evening Friday, 1,000 pounds of crawfish had been boiled at Seither's Seafood in Harahan.

"Yeah, they're good today, they're really nice size, too," said Chef Jason Seither.

Getting enough crawfish to sell is no problem.

"Crawfish season has been great with this beautiful weather that we're having. We didn't really have too much of a winter, so the crawfish are getting plentiful, they're getting really big," Seither said.

"Our business always steps up a little bit during Lent," said Tommy Cvitanovich, an owner of Drago's Seafood Restaurants.

Workers prepared dishes with crawfish inside the Metairie location.

"This is going to be and is a very good crawfish season. The prices today are very fair, so we're looking forward to a great crawfish season especially to help offset the issues with the crabmeat," continued Cvitanovich.

Louisiana's Wildlife and Fisheries agency placed a temporary moratorium on commercial fishing of blue crabs in the state, but Cvitanovich does not believe that will have a major impact on his family's restaurants.

"Our crabmeat mediterranean salad, you know, we've 86ed that for the next four weeks…the crabmeat au gratin dish that we have, we're substituting crawfish au gratin for it. That au gratin sauce goes on top of a couple fish dishes that we have, it's going to be crawfish instead of crabmeat and we haven't had one single complaint and we've been running now for a little over a week," Cvitanovich said.

He thinks the ban will be good for the crab industry in the long run.

"Right now is the time that the crabs are laying their eggs, so that's going to put more crabs, more baby crabs in the water, crabs do grow fast, so without people fishing them and harvesting them it's going to give them time to reproduce and obviously a lot more is going to be out there," said Cvitanovich.

"That'll be great if that happens. I guess only time will tell," said Seither.

At Seither's Seafood, kitchen staff focused on making all sorts of seafood dishes, and Chef Seither chooses not to go without crabs despite the

"Big nice number one crabs from Mississippi. At least we got them, you know?" he said while holding a crab.

But he has noticed in difference in the number of customers buying them.

"The people that want crabs, they're coming and they're getting them, but we're not selling as many as what we normally do, I guess because of the ban the people know it's not local Louisiana crabs," said Seither.

The ban began on Feb. 20 and continues for a month. The state said it will help the health of the blue crab population.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.