NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – A senior Wildlife and Fisheries Department official said Ida may have cost Louisiana half of this year’s shrimp and oyster harvest.
The pain is particularly severe in areas that depend on seafood for their income.
Damaged shrimp and oyster boats litter the marinas of Lower Lafitte, leaving the people who work them desperate for answers.
“I need a lot of repairs right now, my welding machine has fallen under the water,” said shrimp boatman James Savoie.
Southeast Louisiana fishing communities are in decline after Ida. In Lafitte alone, some estimate that more than 100 boats are decommissioned.
“The shrimp community is probably over for the next three years, you can’t sell shrimp in Grand Isle or Lafitte,” said Ray Champagne from Lafitte.
It’s not just the boats, the docks have also been destroyed, many still have no electricity and the state’s billion dollar seafood industry could lose half of its production this year.
“It’s going to drop by at least 50% and that’s my rough guess at the moment,” said Patrick Banks, of the La Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Not only did Ida deal a blow to the shrimp industry, but the oyster farmers also took it on the chin. State officials say oyster death rate on public land is around 20% and more oyster reefs could suffer as dying swamp grass takes its toll .
“As this plant material breaks down it consumes oxygen and we could have mortality in the following weeks as well,” Banks said.
Most of these fishermen also have houses to repair. Many say more protection is needed to protect what is left.
“We need some kind of protection system here to protect us, valves so that we have protection like everyone else.”
In the meantime, those who can will emerge from the mud again, hoping to resume their livelihoods as soon as possible.
State is now trying to get a full assessment of damage to fishing fleet and infrastructure as it seeks federal assistance
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