With the oil gushing from the Gulf of Mexico’s sea floor unchecked and with the Feds and BP Oil still in a quandary over how to stifle the flow of deadly toxins, the impact of the ecological disaster may be broader than anyone could have foreseen or imagined.

Certainly, the immediate shock to Gulf coast ecology and economy is evident, but what of the long term impact to areas such as the Chesapeake Bay?

Experts disagree on just how the spill will affect the Atlantic seaboard – some postulating that oil and toxins will get caught up in the fast Gulf Stream and affect the Southern Atlantic Seashore, but veer into the Atlantic in the grasp of the warm water current once approaching the outer banks of the Carolina’s before reaching the bay.

Others are not so sure. If an Atlantic hurricane bears down on the region, the oil may be pushed out of the Gulf Stream into local waters. As of this writing, most areas of the mid-Atlantic have been told to expect not much more than tar balls which are not as toxic or as devastating to the environment as the current oil now working its way along the gulf and toward the Florida straights.

Given the prediction that the 2010 hurricane season will be an extreme season – up to 15 named storms, seven landfalls, five of which predicted to be hurricanes and up to three of those major landfalls, all oil spill projections are in question until the season which begins next week is underway.

However, the real local impact could be a blow to seafood pricing. Many are unaware that a full 40 percent of all seafood consumed in the United States comes from the waters in the Gulf. With a significant reduction in seafood harvesting because of the spill, foreign fisheries can only pick up part of that slack.

Even with the blue crab population of the bay on the rebound, the restrictive harvesting laws in effect will keep the catch down and prices high. When added to the reduction in the traditional catch, not only will seafood become harder to come by for local eateries, but the probability of soaring pricing is high.

That fact may be offset somewhat because seafood consumers become leery of eating what could be tainted seafood and the demand reduction helps keep pricing down. 

However, pricing for crabs has already inched up $5 a bushel from that of last year and the full local crabbing season is just getting underway; only time will tell depending on the impact of storms and what happens with the continuing gusher of oil still spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.