The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) continues to measure the impacts that the historic flooding event has had on the state’s crucial aquatic life.
Last month, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ requested a federal fisheries disaster declaration which could provide financial assistance to any segment of Louisiana’s fishing industry impacted and can document a proven financial loss.
“Let’s be clear. The request will be for all fisheries, all sectors of those fisheries, all basins along our coast that are experiencing the impacts and where impacts can be documented according to federal thresholds”, said Patrick Banks, LDWF’s assistant secretary for fisheries.
The governor’s letter, Banks said, was a critical first step in the fisheries disaster process. “It simply gave a heads up to the federal government that we have a problem here in Louisiana and, although it mentioned examples, it was meant to be general in nature and it will include all fisheries, all fishing sectors, and all areas of our coast as long as the data support that declaration.”
The impact analysis, in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), will take months to complete. LDWF emphasizes that the flooding event is ongoing and that damages will likely continue to mount. LDWF cautions against any premature assessment.
LDWF has already documented losses to oysters, crabs, shrimp, fish and finfish over the past several months. (Preliminary sampling results as of June 28, 2019, are available here)
However, there are variables that could affect the timing of federal monetary assistance.
“Certainly, we welcome the help of local parish governments to request that federal fisheries disaster declaration and to request Congress to appropriate funding to help our fishermen rebound from this,” Banks said. “But, ultimately the timing is up to the United State Congress to appropriate that money.”
To that end, Congress could decide at any moment, even before an official application is made, provide some financial assistance to those affected. “I’m sure Secretary (Jack) Montoucet at his agency and Gov. Edwards would absolutely support that,” Banks said.
LDWF will continue to collect the data and once completed, it will be submitted to NOAA for its inspection.
An interview with Assistant Secretary Patrick Banks and b-roll footage is available for use by media outlets here: https://ldwf.canto.com/v/2019FisheriesFloodImpacts
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us atwww.wlf.la.gov. To receive email alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.