LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Fishermen and fishery-related businesses across the country are soon to receive millions in CARES Act funding, but is Louisiana getting its fair share of the $255 million?
The Bayou State is receiving about 4.9% of the available funds despite being one of the top fisheries in the nation. In 2020, five powerful storms battered the cajun coast,
and coronavirus closed or limited restaurants, peeling plants, and other industries that keep Louisiana fishermen employed.
“All the coast of Louisiana, it needs help,” Boulon Billiot said who shrimps from Delcambre.
He and Marsha Terrebonne said even when they caught shrimp, “You couldn’t sell it. I mean people wanted it, but pretty much not too many people had money. They had no more jobs,” explained Terrebonne.
“It would be nice if we could get a little help from the government. Get us going again,” Billiot added.
Getting fisheries and fisherman going for is what the $255M in CARES Act funding is for, but U.S. Congressman Garrett Graves of South Louisiana is calling his state’s share a pittance.
“Louisiana produces more oysters, shrimp, blue crab, crawfish than any other state in the country. In fact, we’re the largest seafood producer in the continental United States, so our numbers should reflect that,” Graves said.
Louisiana’s $12.4M is behind seven other states (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, California, Florida, and Maine) When you compare their catch or value, Louisiana mostly leads. Washington for example is receiving $40M. That’s more than triple Louisiana’s amount.
Graves said, “Seeing them getting substantially more than we’re receiving is incredibly frustrating, it’s just wrong.”
“I don’t have no choice words for that. That’s wrong,” Terrebonne added. “It should be where the product comes from.”
The shrimpers in Delcambre News 10 spoke to say the May season is coming up, but many of their friends are giving up because they still have to pay for fuel, maintenance, and other expenses, but they don’t have the money after last year, and they can’t get the money.
After trying to get money from banks and grants and failing, they think more aid could help their chances.