Rachael Thomas / WAFB 27 February 2020

BATON ROUGE, La. – Congressman Garret Graves has written a letter to the National Oceanic an Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asking them to allocated the remaining $100 million in fisheries disaster assistance to Louisiana to go towards mitigating the impacts of the recent openings of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

This comes after NOAA announced Thursday, Feb. 27 that several states that experienced catastrophic fishery losses after Hurricane Michael would receive $65 million.

“Boiled shrimp. Boiled crabs. A dozen oysters on a platter. These delicacies feed Louisiana, the country, and the world. But yet we will find a way to bite the hand that feeds,” Graves said. “Louisiana is still hurting from losses to our fisheries after the opening of the spillway. Fisheries in south Louisiana are engines of local economies, employing both commercial and recreational fishermen, processors, marinas, supportive maritime industries, and restaurants. However, this isn’t just about jobs, it’s about generations of Cajun and Creole culture being threatened by the impacts of disasters.”

“To rub even more salt in the wound, our fishing industry has been taking it on the chin for years, punished by previous, man-made disadvantages, including falsely labeled crawfish from overseas and imported shrimp taking precedent in the market over our domestic and sustainable seafood products,” said Graves.

“Louisiana is resource rich, whether seafood, agriculture, or energy, but we’ve now become rich in the water sent to us by the 31 other state and two Canadian provinces that make up the holistic watershed of the Mississippi River. Essentially, this water has now become our problem and it didn’t belong to us in the first place. We are paying the price. This is nothing new, and yet another resiliency test that we now will have to consider year after year,” Graves said.

“I look forward to working with all involved to ensure that Louisiana’s commercial, charter, and recreational fishing communities will receive the assistance they absolutely need,” said Graves.

Read Graves’ letter to NOAA here. Graves says Louisiana is eligible to receive disaster assistance thanks to the previously declared disaster declarations for fishing communities, made by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The money allocated by NOAA will go to communities in Alaska, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and the Yurok Trice (California) that suffered fishery disasters between 2017 and 2019.

The spillway was finally closed July 27, 2019 after being open a record-breaking 79 days. The spillway was also opened earlier in the year, making the first time it was ever opened twice in one year. In total, the spillway was open for 123 days in 2019. The effects on the fishing industry were largely caused by the influx of fresh water from the Mississippi River into the brackish and saltwater bodies of water like Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico.