St. Bernard Parish Government Officials and the chairman of the Louisiana United Crabbers Alliance met with members of Congress and congressional staffers from Louisiana and Mississippi last week as parish government continues to press Washington for both short term relief and a long term solution for the damage inflicted by the release of floodwater from the Mississippi River into St. Bernard’s estuaries.
“My administration is committed to protecting our local fishing industry, including oystermen, shrimpers, and crabbers,” said St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis. “Fishing is an integral part of St. Bernard’s economy and cultural identity. We have conveyed to both members of Congress and federal officials that we need to save our fishing industry now or we will lose it forever.”
“Managing the Mississippi River’s waters is a 32 state issue but thus far it has been primarily a St. Bernard and gulf coast problem,” said Michael Bayham, Chairman of the St. Bernard Fisheries Taskforce.
“Diverting river water into our lakes and bays has had a catastrophic effect on our ecosystem and commercial fishing industry,” said Bayham. “Action must be taken to sustain our local fishing industry and a solution must be developed to better manage Mississippi River floodwater in the north so our area no longer bears the full burden.”
Louisiana US Senator John N. Kennedy has co-sponsored legislation with Mississippi US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith to assist commercial fishermen adversely affected by the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.
“Just as farmers need federal assistance when Mother Nature destroys their crops, Louisiana shrimpers and fishermen deserve help when their livelihood is threatened by events beyond their control,” said Kennedy. “They are fighting for survival because of disastrous freshwater intrusions in the Gulf. My legislation will give them the help they need to continue fishing Louisiana’s waters for generations to come.”
St. Bernard Parish Director of Coastal Division John Lane, Bayham and Eddie Chagnard of the Louisiana United Crabbers Alliance met with US Senator Kennedy, Congressmen Clay Higgins, Mike Johnson, and Ralph Abraham, and aides with US Senator Bill Cassidy and Congressmen Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond. The group also visited with US Senator Hyde-Smith’s senior staff.
The previous week Parish President McInnis and a delegation of parish leaders and commercial fishermen went to Washington, holding meetings with officials from the White House, the Department of Agriculture, and the fisheries division of the Department of Commerce in addition to visiting members of Congress.
Pictured from left to right are Louisiana United Crabbers Alliance (LUCA) Chairman Eddie Chagnard, U.S. Senator John Kennedy, Fisheries Task Force Chairman Michael Bayham, and St. Bernard Director of Coastal Division John Lane.