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Louisiana fishing industry loses USD 258 million due to flooding

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Friday, November 22, 2019, 06:10 (GMT + 9)

The Louisiana fishing industry suffered an estimated USD 258 million in losses due to the historic 2019 flooding event, according to a fisheries disaster economic impact analysis conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Governor John Bel Edwards announced.



The analysis was submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for helping the state qualify for its portion of the USD 165 million in fisheries disaster assistance currently available on the federal level.

“I am committed to getting the funding this study says our people lost,” Edwards said. “These hard-working men and women represent many facets of our important coastal heritage, from commercial fishermen, to charter fishermen, to seafood processors. We will work tirelessly to help our fishing businesses and families get back on their feet.”           

Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to Louisiana’s congressional delegation to request assistance to obtain the funds to fully compensate for the damages that are estimated in the LDWF report.

In September, the U.S. Department of Commerce approved Gov. Edwards’ request for a formal declaration of a fisheries disaster in Louisiana. Following the approval, LDWF began working with NOAA to evaluate the economic impact to Louisiana fisheries and finalized the economic impact evaluation last week.

The estimated economic impact value far exceeds the amount of disaster assistance funding currently available at NOAA.  It is important to note that fisheries disasters were also declared by the U.S. Department of Commerce in Alaska, California, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama, and those states are submitting similar economic impact analyses to NOAA in order to qualify for a portion of the USD 165 million in available disaster assistance.

LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet pledged the department’s continued full commitment to the state’s fishing community. “With the input of the fishing community, we will develop a sound plan that provides the most benefit possible during this recovery,” Montoucet said. “Everything possible will be done for our fishing community.”

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

Here is a breakdown of the estimated losses to each fishery and fishing sector:

  • Blue crab - USD 5.5 million;
  • Brown shrimp - USD 28.7 million;
  • White shrimp - USD 32.8 million;
  • Private lease oysters - USD 121.7 million;
  • Public ground oysters - USD 20.5 million;
  • Black drum - USD 370,325;
  • Charter fishing (offshore) - USD 1.7 million;
  • Seafood processors - USD 47 million.

Flooding in the Mississippi River Basin during the winter, spring, and summer of 2019 impeded navigation and caused crop and property damage estimated at $12.5 billion by April 2019

Additionally, there were localized impacts to some fisheries that did not rise to a state-level basis or were mitigated by increases in those harvests elsewhere. For instance, the current estimates of losses do not capture the reduced charter activity in western Louisiana, as there was also an increase in central and eastern Louisiana.

It should be noted that these are only dockside (revenue) losses, and do not incorporate addition costs associated with longer travel times, increased fuel costs, etc., that increased costs to those harvesters or charter boat operators.

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