Spillway opening still affecting Louisiana saltwater fisherman

Algae impact on seafood

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A ray of hope has finally appeared as Louisiana’s saltwater fishermen continue to deal with the effects of freshwater from the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

Still, as the white shrimp season opened up to mixed reviews, other fishermen continue to struggle.

The news of a decent white shrimp season comes as welcomed relief after the brown shrimp season was almost a bust due to freshwater from the Bonnet Carre spillway, and the algae that resulted.

Some oystermen in St. Bernard Parish say they’ve lost 70 to 100 percent of their crop, and the parish and its fishermen are still waiting for federal help. Parish President Guy McInnis said the ongoing problems are discouraging.

“They’re being hit in the mouth every year with something, and when it’s man made they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” McInnis said.

And, after some lean years of brown shrimp catch -- especially this past one -- St. Bernard shrimpers like Cu Nguyen say they are hurting, dock operator Rob Tran said.

“They do need help. They are hard workers and they need help,” Tran said.

Nguyen said he can’t take it anymore. Not only is he looking to sell his boat, but he also said the worry is causing him physical harm, as the stress takes its toll

While crabs appear to be making a slow comeback and supplies were plentiful at Today’s Ketch Seafood in Chalmette Wednesday (Aug. 14), Jeff Pohlmann said oysters are still scarce

“Last time we sold a shelled oyster in a sack has been two months,” Pohlmann said.

McInnis said he is working to get relief for impacted fishermen before it’s too late. If help doesn’t come soon, Nguyen said he will likely sell his boat and find a new job.

But he and others said they’d rather be on the water in spite of continuing uncertainty, but they just don’t know how much more they can take.

McInnis said he hopes a new bill to send relief to local fishermen will clear congress next month.

In the meantime, he said there may be help available through the U.S. Commerce Department, once Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries gets a full assessment of the damage.

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