St. Bernard officials, fishermen wrap up D.C. trip at the White House
Officials and fishermen from St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish ended their gauntlet of meetings in Washington D.C. earlier this week with their most important stop: the White House.
The away team from St. Bernard met with White House staffers Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., followed by the Plaquemines delegation at 4:30 p.m., before both groups started making their way home. Both groups made pitches aimed at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seeking a disaster declaration for Louisiana fisheries in order to tap into $150 million in federal disaster relief funds. They say fresh water from the Bonnet Carre Spillway pouring into Louisiana fisheries has already caused the prerequisite 35 percent drop in yield to trigger a disaster declaration, and the numbers are getting worse.
“The number in May was 37 percent (losses),” said Acy Cooper, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, by phone from D.C. “We don’t have the numbers from June and July, but it’s probably going to be 60 or proposed sediment diversions that would route more freshwater to estuaries.
“The main thing is to get money for the guys that really need it, but we’re also talking about a long-term solution,” said Cooper. “Something to benefit our industry like the farm bill. So if a disaster happens again we can just tap into that to take care of us.”
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