Dead zone threatens fisheriesBy Amy Wold, Advocate Staff Writer
Sep 10, 2007, The Baton Rouge ADVOCATE
GRAND ISLE — The “dead zone” area of low oxygen in the
This year, it’s directly hurting fishermen, said Dean Blanchard, owner of Dean Blanchard Seafood Inc., during a meeting about the dead zone Friday.
Normally, when the area of low oxygen comes in close to the beach at Grand Isle, shrimpers just move their operations to
Blanchard explained that inland crabbers are reporting pulling up pots full of dead crabs, fishermen report landing fish that have “no fight in them” and shrimpers aren’t even bothering to go out because the shrimp aren’t there.
Blanchard said that in the last two weeks, he’s down about 300,000 pounds of shrimp that would normally have come into his business.
“It’s just dried up,” Blanchard said. “So it looks like it’s gotten into the bay and that’s a scary proposition.”
That why the Grand Isle Port Commission, Grand Isle residents and other groups organized a community meeting Friday to come up with a new approach to getting action on reducing the annually reoccurring “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Hopefully, today we can start listing some strategies,” said Wayne Keller, director of the Grand Isle Port Commission. “Mainly, today we’re trying to raise awareness and get some voice.”
By the conclusion of the meeting, people agreed that change could come by letting people in power know that finding a solution to the “dead zone” is important to many people.
In addition, there needs to be a better effort made in coordinating the
The dead zone of low oxygen forms every summer off the coast of
This nutrient-enriched water helps the growth of microscopic organisms which use up oxygen in the water column as they die and decompose.
During the summer, this low-oxygen water at the bottom of the water column doesn’t get mixed with the more oxygen- rich water at the top and creates a “dead zone” where the oxygen levels are too low to support marine life.
“This dead zone is close and it’s getting closer by the day,” said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle.
Nancy Rabalais, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocodrie and a well-known hypoxia researcher, said the
“We have those tremendous fisheries because nutrients come down the
A federal task force and associated scientists set a goal several years ago of reducing the annual size of the dead zone to 5,000 square kilometers by 2015. To get there, nutrient inputs into the
“This is not just a local issue, it’s a national issue,” Keller agreed.
The problem has been a lack of money to address the issue and a lack of urgency to try and solve it, speakers at the meeting said.
“What’s been missing, really, have been the resources to jump this to a different level,” said Doug Daigle, coordinator with the Lower Mississippi River Sub-Basin Committee on Hypoxia.
If a grassroots effort is going to be effective in making change,” Daigle said, “people need to start writing to their congressional delegations to make the money available.”
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