LDWF confirms early damage from spillway openings

The state Department of Wildlife & Fisheries recently issued a press release confirming early reports of damage that commercial fishermen in St. Bernard Parish predicted would follow the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

The June 11 release from LDWF reports an 89 percent decline in average oyster landings on the state’s public water-bottoms, a 63 percent decline in shrimp landings, a 45 percent decline in crab landings and declines between 31-53 percent for various finfish in April.

“It’s everything from crabs to fish, all the way toward Mississippi. Every fishery is on the decline,” said St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis on June 12.

St. Bernard Parish Government declared a state of emergency in May ahead of the second opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway in 2019, the first time in its history that the spillway has been opened twice in the same year to relieve high water on the Mississippi River. At press time, the spillway had been open a record 76 days in 2019.

The opening of the spillway sends fresh water into Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne that eventually winds up in brackish water fisheries in Breton Sound, where much of St. Bernard’s seafood is caught.



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