Isaac hurricane arriving at the Gulf of Mexico shores. (Photo: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross)
Fishing sector faces huge loss due to Isaac
Monday, September 03, 2012, 05:00 (GMT + 9)
Hurricane Isaac could cost Alabama’s seafood industry millions of dollars in losses – yet the damage caused was nothing compared to that from Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. Notably, the storm caused virtually no damage to buildings or vessels.
High seas kept dozens of shrimp boats unable to venture out last week and processing plants were closed; the main road along the waterfront was flooded as well as some neighborhoods where workers live.
“We’re just going to lose a week of work, and that’s not too bad,” said Dominick Ficarino, owner of Dominick’s Seafood, which owns seven trawlers and one of the largest shrimp processing houses on the Mexican Gulf Coast, Associated Press reports.
Regardless, missed sales and days out of work bring losses.
President of the Organised Seafood Association of Alabama Ernie Anderson estimates that Isaac could cost the industry as much as USD 3 million in lost sales during a week or more.
He thinks the Gulf Coast seafood industry will likely not be able to go back to work before this week at the earliest, and the shutdown could last longer in Louisiana and Mississippi, where Isaac struck the hardest.
Alabama’s conditions post-Isaac improved rapidly, but southeastern Louisiana was not so lucky.
But the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board already had strategies ready to deal with storms like Isaac. These are ensuring public confidence and forming strategic partnerships with organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Louisiana Restaurant Association.
“Through common understanding and shared vigilance, we can speak and act as one for the benefit of many,” said Ewell Smith, executive director the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.
“That way, our constituents know we’re working together to help them survive the crisis. And, just as important, consumers know everything that’s being done to ensure Louisiana seafood is available and safe.”
In the Florida Keys, the hurricane is thought to have damaged and even destroyed hundreds or even thousands of spiny lobster traps, The Citizen reports.
In Key Largo, some reports estimate that 25-50 per cent of lobster traps were damaged or destroyed, said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association.
"I don't have a feel for the overall magnitude as of yet," Kelly said.
The storm swept in about three weeks after lobster season began, which has put many trap fishers in a difficult spot. The Upper Keys seemed to have been hit the hardest, but many fishers did not check their traps until mid- or late-week.
- Fishers look forward to Hurricane Isaac
By Natalia Real