BATON ROUGE – On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to U.S. Sec. of Commerce Wilbur Ross requesting a federal fishery disaster be declared due to the profound and continuing impacts of Hurricane Laura on Louisiana’s fishing communities.
This declaration would help in obtaining federal financial assistance for fishers, processors, docks, and for the state to help rehabilitate the important fishery species upon which the Louisiana seafood industry relies.
In the letter, Gov. Edwards writes:
“In the coming months, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will vigorously work to evaluate the biological and economic impact that this historic storm has had on Louisiana. Laura was one of the strongest hurricanes on record to make landfall in the United States. It is expected that the storm’s damage, once fully evaluated, will rival that of Hurricane Rita, which hit this area in September 2005.
The impacted parishes were home to nearly 2,500 commercial fishermen and vessels combined and over 100 wholesale dealers participating in the oyster, shrimp, crab, and saltwater finfish fisheries. Additionally, approximately 100 licensed charter captains call the impacted parishes home.
Louisiana fisheries are vital not only to the state’s economy but also to the nation. Louisiana was first in volume in 2018 with 1.0 billion pounds landed and 4th in value at $377 million in that same year. As the largest producer of domestic seafood for our nation, restoration of Louisiana’s fisheries, fisheries infrastructure, and habitat is critical to our nation’s economy and to the families in our state who make a living in the fishing industry. We must not overlook the devastating effects that this natural disaster will have on commercial fishermen and fisheries infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico.
By immediately making funds available, our fishermen can return to commerce and supply our nation with U.S. caught shrimp, crabs, oysters, and finfish. We are extremely grateful for any assistance you and your department can provide as our state and our residents continue to suffer from storm-related impacts.”