Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries shares latest report of loss linked to Bonnet Carre Spillway opening

Updated: Sep. 13, 2019 at 5:36 PM CDT
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YSCLOSKEY, La. (WVUE) - According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Department, local fisheries are still feeling the effects from the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

However, the report says local rivers are returning to normal .

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it in my life,” Shrimper Charles Robin said.

Robin is a shrimper in Yscloskey. He said his catch dropped by more than half this year compared to last.

“Last year on average I’d catch a thousand or 1,200 pounds a day on a slow day. Now, you can’t even catch 500 pounds,” Robin said.

According to Wildlife and Fisheries, brown shrimp landings are down 34 to 44 percent compared to the five year average.

St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis said he's actively pushing for an Emergency Fisheries Declaration in Washington, D.C.

“Our basin is most affected, but that’s across the state. Remember, we are most affected, so our numbers are even higher than that,” said McInnis, “Because we’re closer to the Bonnet Carre, and this is where all that water’s coming.”

State data showed the blue crabs catch declined 14 to 84 percent across different bodies of water.

“Blue crab, what we have seen is that there are different amounts of impact in different parts of the state. This is not just a Mississippi flood this year. We had impacts in the Mississippi, high rivers in Pearl, and high rivers in the Sabine,” said Harry Blanchet with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said.

This also dramatically affected how much fisherman caught black drum, which showed a 51 percent decline.

"We knew what those numbers were going to be. it's like a storm being out in the gulf, and it's coming, and it's going to have so much damage. we know that already," McInnis said.

Perhaps the most impacted are oysters--mortality rates in the report ranged as high as 100 percent in several areas across the state.

“They’re not coming back for another four years, so it’s going to be zero today and t’s going to be zero 12 months from now,” McInnis said.

The Emergency Fisheries Declaration requires 12 months of data before federal relief can be granted.

In the meantime, fishermen like Robin say they'll catch what they can.

"I'm going to do it as long as I can until my pocketbook tells me hey, I'm going to have to go get a job until things get better, but I'm a dying breed.Ii got all kinds of fight in me, so we're just going to keep on fighting," Robin said.

McInnis said he’ll be headed back to D.C. next month to talk to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to push for the emergency declaration.

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