FILE - MIssissippi River Flooding Bayou Chene Atchafalaya Basin

A barge that was intentionally sunk as a barrier to potential flooding is seen in Bayou Chene near Morgan City, La., in the Atchafalaya Basin in this June 10, 2011, file photo.

Efforts to prevent flooding this year caused Louisiana’s fishing industry to lose about $258 million, according to state estimates announced Friday.  

The federal government has set aside $165 million for fisheries disaster assistance, and Louisiana is one of several states asking for a share.

The Mississippi River was at flood stage from Dec. 28 through Aug. 10, the longest period on record, causing the Army Corps of Engineers to open the Bonnet Carré Spillway twice to mitigate the threat of levee failure. The influx of fresh water into coastal areas devastated several species important to Louisiana’s fishing industry.

The U.S. Department of Commerce approved Gov. John Bel Edwards' request to declare a fisheries disaster for the state in September. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop an estimate.

“The estimated economic impact value far exceeds the amount of disaster assistance funding currently available at NOAA,” Edwards’ office said in a prepared statement. “It is important to note that fisheries disasters were also declared by the U.S. Department of Commerce in Alaska, California, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama, and those states are submitting similar economic impact analyses to NOAA in order to qualify for a portion of the $165 million in available disaster assistance.”

Once NOAA determines how much funding will be provided to Louisiana, LDWF will work with the industry to develop a recovery plan, officials say. The process is expected to take several months.

Holders of private oyster leases lost an estimated $121.7 million, the most of any industry sector. The report incorporates revenue losses that were not mitigated by increases elsewhere and does not include “localized impacts to some fisheries that did not rise to a state-level basis.”

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.