Gulf Coast seafood biz slammed by freshwater from floods

Louisiana

FILE – In an Aug. 16, 2010 file photo, shrimpers haul in their catch in Bastian Bay, near Empire, La., on the first day of shrimping season.It will be months before state officials know whether losses from floods and spillway openings qualify Louisiana as a fisheries disaster. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials say floods began around November 2018 and a full 12 months’ data is needed to compare to averages for the previous 5 years. The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama asked months ago for US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to declare a fisheries disaster, making federal grants available to affected people. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Freshwater from Midwestern floods has killed oysters along the coasts of three states and cost Mississippi half of its blue crabs.

The head of Mississippi’s Department of Marine Resources says water that came through a Louisiana spillway killed 95 percent of the oysters in his part of the Mississippi Sound and fed toxic algae blooms. Joe Spraggins says seafood and tourism businesses have lost $120 million to $140 million.

The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama asked months ago for U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to declare a fisheries disaster. That designation would allow federal grants to those whose livelihoods were affected.

Alabama canceled its oyster season.

A Louisiana fisheries official says it will be months before he has all the figures needed to say which fisheries qualify.

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