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Seafood die off, migration due to flood waters could cripple industry

In coming fresh water killing oysters, forcing salt water crabs, shrimp and fish to migrate

June 17, 2019 - 1:56 pm

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -Prolonged flooding on the Mississippi River is not only growing a giant dead-zone in the middle of the gulf, water tainted with chemical fertilizer and oily runoff from streets and roads is pouring into the bays and marshes of Louisiana and Mississippi. 

The Mississippi River watershed drains 41% of the continental United States, and the middle of North America has had an awfully wet year.  That over abundance of floodwater is killing oysters and driving crabs, shrimp and finfish out of Louisiana and Mississippi bays and marshes to saltier waters out in the gulf.

"We've been dealing with the river since October," said Acy J. Cooper Jr., president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association "That's a long time it's been high."

The die-offs are as bad in Mississippi. Joe Spraggins, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, said fresh water has killed 80% or more of the state's oysters. He said crabs are down about 40% and brown shrimp landings are down more than 70% from a five-year average.
  
Brad Robin says his family controls about 10,000 acres of oyster leases in Louisiana. He says that on a 10-point scale, "we are 9-and-a-half destroyed."
 
Governor John Bel Edwards said Monday that he asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for the declaration. He released a letter sent to Ross on Thursday.  Edwards says the declaration could help get federal aid for fishers, processors and docks, and for state rehabilitation of the species.

Both states have seen oyster harvests plummet by 80 percent, and shrimp landings are nearly as bad.

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