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Louisiana fishing industry suffers USD 258 million in losses

Louisiana fishing industry suffers USD 258 million in losses

By Christine Blank

November 20, 2019

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The Louisiana fishing industry suffered an estimated USD 258 million (EUR 233 million) in losses due to historic flooding this year and the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, a new analysis said.

The fisheries disaster economic impact analysis, conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, was submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to help the state qualify for its portion of the USD 165 million (EUR 149 million) in fisheries disaster assistance available from the federal government.

“I am committed to getting the funding this study says our people lost,” Governor John Bel Edwards said in a press release. “These hard-working men and women represent many facets of our important coastal heritage, from commercial fishermen, to charter fishermen, to seafood processors.”

Louisiana seafood processors have suffered USD 47 million (EUR 42 million) in losses, according to the economic impact analysis, while private lease oysters have lost nearly USD 122 million (EUR 110 million), and public ground oysters have lost USD 20.5 million (EUR 18.5 million).

The white shrimp industry has lost USD 32.8 million (EUR 30 million), the brown shrimp industry has lost USD 28.7 million (EUR 26 million), the blue crab fishing industry has lost USD 5.5 million (EUR 5 million), and the black drum industry has lost around USD 370,000 (EUR 334,000).

Oyster reefs in Louisiana have reported 50 percent to 100 percent mortalities, and brown shrimp landings plummeted 61 percent in April, according to a letter Edwards sent to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Blue crab landings also dropped 42 percent in April.

The losses in Louisiana are similar to seafood loses reported in Mississippi, where oyster mortalities are between 95 and 98 percent, Joe Spraggins, director of the Misssippi Department of Marine Resources, told SeafoodSource. Plus, brown shrimp landings dropped 85 percent in July, compared to the five-year average, while blue crab landings declined 40 percent.

However, the estimated economic impact value in Louisiana “far exceeds” the amount of disaster assistance funding currently available at NOAA, Edwards’ office said.

Fisheries disasters were also declared in several other states, including Alaska, California, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama, and those states are trying to quality for a portion of the USD 165 million in available disaster assistance.

Once NOAA determines how much funding will be provided to Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will “work closely with the various fishing industries to develop an assistance plan that best helps the industries recover,” Edwards’ office said. “This process is expected to take some time, and any assistance program is not likely to begin for several months.”

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