State official says 50% of this year’s harvest may be lost due to Hurricane Ida

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 7:21 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A top official with the department of Wildlife And Fisheries says Ida may have cost Louisiana half of this year’s shrimp and oyster crop.

The pain is especially severe in areas that depend on seafood for 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 went underwater,” said shrimper James Savoie.

Fishing communities across Southeast Louisiana are down for the count after Ida. In Lafitte alone, some estimate more than 100 boats are knocked out of commission.

“The shrimping community is over probably for the next three years you can’t sell shrimp in Grand Isle or Lafitte,” said Ray Champagne of Lafitte.

It’s not just the boats, docks have also been wiped out, many still don’t have power, and the state’s one-billion-dollar seafood industry may lose half its production this year.

“It’s going to be down at least 50% and that’s my rough guess right now,” said Patrick Banks, with La. Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Not only did Ida deal a blow to the shrimp industry but oystermen have taken it on the chin as well. State officials say the oyster mortality rate on public grounds Is around 20%, and more oyster reefs may suffer as dying marsh grass takes its toll.

“As that plant matter breaks down it eats up oxygen and we could have mortality in later weeks as well,” said Banks.

Most of these fishermen also have homes to repair. Many say more protection is needed to protect what’s left.

“We need some kind of a protection system out here to protect us, floodgates so we have protection like everybody else.’

In the meantime, those who can will dig out of the mud once again, hoping to resume their livelihood as soon as possible.

The state is now trying to get a full assessment of the damage to the fishing fleet, and infrastructure as they seek federal help

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