Major wholesale crab dealer temporarily shuts down amid spillway crisis

Major crab wholesaler shuts down during spillway crisis

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - On a normal day, crabs would be pouring into Pomes Seafood between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne, but it was not a normal day for owner Chris Pomes Tuesday (July 9), after he was forced to temporarily shut down his business amid a crab shortage.

“I ain’t never seen it this bad. I’ve never seen it this bad in all these years,” Pomes said.

Pomes said since the opening of the Bonne Carre Spillway four months ago, crabs have been dying at an extremely high rate.

“Yesterday, we had crabs out the water for three hours and 35 percent of them were dead as soon as they hit our dock,” Pomes said.

Fisherman Kurt Cochran makes his living catching crabs in Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne and has also been hurt by the spillway’s waters.

“The freshwater is killing us,” Cochran said.

Now, Cochran said he’s having to go 20 miles to the east to find any.

Pomes said he’s also going to areas like Dulac and Houma to buy crabs, but that poses a problem too.

“We’re paying a lot more money for the crabs coming from Dulac, and then we put that extra cost on it to go to the east coast. Their crabs are biting, so now nobody wants crabs from the South because the crabs are so high," Pomes said.

Pomes said he is doing what he can to keep his buyers happy, because once they’re going, it’s difficult to win them back. On top of that, he said his temporary shutdown will have a ripple effect on everyone in the industry.

“That means all the fishermen from Dulac can’t fish. That means all the fishermen in this area can’t fish, and then we turn around to sell it to the customers up north and they can’t sell it,” Pomes said.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the seafood production should bounce back after an opening of the Spillway, but Pomes said he worries his business will never be able to fully recover.

“We’re losing thousands of dollars a day by not working. The spillway is just destroying everybody here,” Pomes said.

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