WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) announced Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has approved an emergency declaration for Louisiana fisheries due to the opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. As result of high water levels on the Mississippi River, opening of the spillway caused hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of fresh water to pour into Lake Pontchartrain each second.
This announcement comes after Cassidy and the Louisiana delegation sent a letter to Secretary Ross in July urging him to begin the process of implementing a federal fisheries disaster declaration after the record 123 day opening of the Spillway. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries has been and continues to collect data to understand the full impact of the Spillway’s opening on Louisiana fisheries. However, the Department of Commerce has determined Louisiana and other Gulf States have sufficiently shown the impacts to be significant enough to warrant the declaration.
“Recreational and commercial fishers in Louisiana are suffering. This action was needed,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This emergency declaration is necessary to repair Louisiana and the Gulf’s critical seafood industry.”
“Fishing is the cornerstone of countless coastal economies and has been a way of life for generations of Americans,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “This determination acknowledges the critical role fisheries play in our communities, and the risks they face from natural disasters and other causes beyond their control.”
These determinations make these fisheries eligible for NOAA fisheries disaster assistance. For fiscal year 2019, Congress appropriated $165 million for fishery disasters. The Department of Commerce is determining the appropriate allocations of these funds to eligible fisheries.
The Department’s formal Determination Letter will be posted here.