Coastal advisor Garret Graves. (Photo: gov.state.la.us/ louisianaseafoodnews)
Louisiana oyster industry struggling the most
Friday, October 01, 2010, 15:30 (GMT + 9)
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's coastal advisor Garret Graves has announced that a new Oyster Advisory Committee will steer measures on the oyster industry after damage caused by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. With the industry expected to take as long as two years to recover.
The spill has majorly harmed Louisiana’s seafood industry and its oysters especially. The opening of river diversions in the state to help keep oil out of marshes led to fresh water infiltrating huge areas of private oyster leases, with some leases being entirely wiped out due to low saltwater content.
"From a biological point of view, the oyster is most susceptible to the oil," explained Randy Pausina, assistant secretary for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). "They can't move, and so those beds need to be closed and can't be reopened, as opposed to finfish, shrimp and crabs can move out of the area."
Due to both the oil spill and low salinity rates, the oyster haul from January-June 2010 plunged by 57 per cent from the 2007-9 average with a dockside value loss of 44 per cent impacting fishers, processors, distributors, truck drivers and more, AOL News reports.
Graves said Jindal's 15-member Committee will make sure the industry is sufficiently compensated for all damages resulting from the oil spill disaster. The committee will also handle how the oyster industry can deal with coastal restoration projects necessary to battle the overwhelming land loss rates.
Although the diversions of fresh water from the Mississippi River have long comprised part of Louisiana’s coastal restoration plans, they can influence oyster productivity, reports The Times-Picayune.
"We feel it is crucial to move forward with restoring and protecting coastal Louisiana, but we must also consider how our efforts impact industries in the coastal zone of the state," Graves stated.
The Oyster Advisory Committee will be made up of representatives from the oyster industry, the oil and gas industry, those with maritime interests, coastal landowners, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration and legislators.
The committee is likely to grant Louisiana and its oyster industry a chance to tackle critical issues that nobody has been addressing for years, told Mike Voisin, committee member and owner of an important oyster processing business.
"We've got to do some planning here because if we're going to do some progressive freshwater diversions, we as an oyster community and the state as an entity needs to set some direction," he said. "It raises the issue to a level that we have not had before. Here you have an advisory committee straight to the governor."
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By Natalia Real