Nov 1, 2010 3:33 PM by Katie Durio
NEW ORLEANS - At Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, Governor Bobby Jindal joined Louisiana's coastal leaders and members of the state's seafood, restaurant and tourism industries to announce an agreement with BP today that will provide funding for seafood safety and testing efforts, coastal restoration work and tourism marketing to help revitalize Louisiana and these industries from the BP oil spill. Specifically, the BP agreement includes $48 million for seafood safety and testing efforts, $140 million for sand berm and barrier island restoration work, and $30 million to help Louisiana's tourism industry.
Governor Jindal said, "Our most fundamental goals for revitalizing Louisiana have been to restore our coast and certify that our Louisiana seafood is safe - and today, we are marking tremendous progress toward those goals. Louisiana is home to some of the richest and most diverse seafood in the world, and with today's announcement, and the hard work of those in the Louisiana seafood industry, we know our seafood will continue to be the best in the world.
"I am confident that we will absolutely revitalize Louisiana. I want to invite the entire nation down here to Louisiana to be a part of another great comeback. Book your ticket today. Come fish, come eat and stay a while.
"We saw the Saints win the Super Bowl months ago, after years of struggles and setbacks. It is with that same perseverance and determination that we will emerge victorious over this oil spill - and we will come back stronger and better than ever. America watched as the oil hit our coast month after month, and now we want every American to come here and be a part of another great American comeback."
BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay said, "BP is very pleased to be working cooperatively with Governor Jindal and the state on this road from response to recovery. The agreement we have signed today is another example of BP's commitment to doing what is in the best interest of the state and the people of Louisiana."
For the announcement, Governor Jindal was joined by Lt. Governor Scott Angelle, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro, St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis, Jefferson Parish President John Young, Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, Jefferson Parish Councilman Tommy Capella, Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Young, Ralph Brennan, Chef Paul Prudhomme, Galatoire's General Manager Melvin Rodrigue, Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board Chairman Harlon Pearce, Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board Executive Director Ewell Smith, P&J Oyster Company President Al Sunseri and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission member Mike Voisin.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, "This announcement today brings us one step closer to standing up our fishing communities and the tens of thousands of Louisianians whose way of life rely on what's produced in the Gulf. We still have work ahead to continue to hold BP accountable for making this community whole again, and I'll continue working with the Jindal administration to ensure our coastal communities and our fishing industry are provided the resources they need to produce the sort of products and services our state and the rest of the nation relies on."
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said, "We're a step further today in recovering from the oil spill, upgrading our coastal protection systems and supporting our seafood industry. Governor Jindal is to be applauded for working with a sense of urgency to get our communities what they need to not only survive, but come out of this crisis better than ever."
St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis said, "It's been a real battle to get the resources our coastal communities need to protect their way of life, but thanks to the dedication and determination of the Jindal administration and other local leaders we've made significant progress. I can confidently say we're moving in a positive direction and I expect we will continue to do so. These millions of dollars will go a long way to promote Louisiana seafood and ensure its safety, which is exactly what we need to restore the confidence and bounce back from the oil spill."
St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro said, "These dollars are critical to protecting our coast from the oil, ensuring the quality of Louisiana seafood and getting the message out to the rest of the word that Louisiana not only has the greatest seafood in the world, but also the most vigorously tested. The oil spill impacted our industries, our coastline and the livelihoods of Louisianians who rely on what's produced in the Gulf - so it's good to see we'll get some real support to get our coastal communities back on track."
Galatoire's General Manager Melvin Rodrigue said, "Getting our Louisiana seafood industry back on its feet after this disaster is essential for restoring our communities and hundreds of businesses in our state. We started asking for funding to support testing and safety programs several months ago and we are glad to finally have an agreement from BP to help this vital Louisiana industry."
"Restoring faith in Louisiana seafood is one of the biggest challenges our fishing industry and our state have faced in recent years," said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. "We have spent the last several months working to convince BP that we must implement a thorough seafood safety plan, and that we must start aggressively working to change the public perception of Louisiana seafood created by this spill. With this funding, we are ready to move forward to rebuild consumers' trust in Louisiana seafood."
Seafood Safety & Testing Funding
Out of the $48 million total investment, $18 million will be provided over a three year period - $6 million a year - for seafood testing of oil, dispersants and other spill-related impacts on seafood. This funding and the three-year commitment would be reset upon any oiling that would trigger the closure of fishing areas.
Another $30 million from the $48 million total is being provided over a three-year period - $10 million a year - to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation for the marketing of Louisiana gulf seafood. The Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board will manage this funding. This funding and the three-year commitment also would be reset upon any oiling that would trigger the closure of fishing areas.
Governor Jindal also said the state has another commitment from BP that still needs to be finalized, but as of today, BP has agreed to fund fish hatchery projects in Louisiana, with a focus on supporting those seafood species affected by the spill, and oyster seeding to support the oyster industry as it recovers from the affects of the oil spill.
The Governor previously announced an agreement with BP to fund a three-year, $13 million fishery-resource monitoring plan which will enable biologists from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to conduct a three-year study on the effects of the oil spill on Louisiana's fisheries resources. The core components of the plan include monitoring Louisiana's inshore aquatic resources, which will allow biologists to quantify the impact of the oil spill on inshore fishery resources by enhancing monitoring and sampling approaches.
Coastal Restoration Funding
The Governor provided an update on the $360 million sand berm project that was launched to protect Louisiana's coastal areas from the oil spill. To date, nearly 17 million cubic yards of sand has been dredged. This includes over 12 million cubic yards of sediment that was dredged from the Mississippi River and placed in the barrier island chains. To put that in perspective, Louisiana loses a football field of land every 38 minutes or about 13,800 football fields a year. Thus far, the dredging project has moved enough material with these sand berms to pile one foot of sand on over 12,100 football fields.
Over 10 miles of sand berm have been built and two more berm segments (W8 and W10) are scheduled to be completed within the next two weeks. To date, about 8.5 million cubic yards of material has been pumped to the islands and there are millions more cubic yards of sand stockpiled in the re-handling area now for berms and barrier island restoration.
As part of BP's agreement with the state for the sand berm project, there is $140 million in remaining funding. The Governor said that as the state moves forward in discussing damages and recovery funding with BP, the state has been working on plans to fortify the temporary sand berms for oil protection so that they become barrier islands that both block oil and help to restore and protect Louisiana's coast.
Governor Jindal announced an agreement to commit up to $100 million of the remaining sand berm funding to convert the sand berms into Louisiana's historic barrier islands that have eroded. The other $40 million in remaining berm funds will be dedicated to berm construction, stabilization, environmental support and other compliance costs associated with the berm work.
The Governor noted that fortifying these sand berms for oil protection by building them into barrier islands is especially important now that today (Nov. 1) marks the end of hurricane season and there is time to strengthen these berm projects to protect Louisiana against the threat of submerged oil before the next hurricane season.
Under this agreement, up to $100 million of the remaining berm funds will be dedicated to dredge and pump sand on both the front and back sides of the berms and vegetation to support the long-term restoration and sustainability of Louisiana's barrier islands. On the west side of the river, engineers are currently working on barrier island restoration plans for Shell, Pelican and Scofield barrier islands. These are also known as the W-8, W-9 and W-10 berms. About two weeks ago, the state began working with the Army Corps of Engineers on appropriate permits to restore these islands. The state is also working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a plan to conduct restoration projects on the Chandeleur Islands in the vicinity of the E-4 berm on the east side of the river.
Additionally, the state is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to expedite the expenditure of about $40 million in state and federal Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act funds to restore barrier islands on the west side of the river - which creates a total $180 million investment in continued coastal restoration work that is essential to protecting Louisiana's inlands from the threat of submerged oil that continues to be reported below the surface.
Governor Jindal said that the sand berm project constructed during the oil spill response stage combined now with fortification of the berms will total the largest barrier island restoration project in Louisiana history.
BP has agreed to the state's request to compensate the losses in Louisiana's tourism industry with $30 million in funding to help the industry get back on its feet. Under the agreement with BP, $30 million will be provided to the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism over three years - for $10 million a year - to support the marketing of Louisiana as a tourist destination. This funding and the three-year commitment also would be reset upon any oiling that would trigger the closure of fishing areas.
The $30 million will be invested in:
· A Louisiana Campaign (including nature based tourism) $10.5 million
· A Coastal Tourism Response $6 million
· Greater New Orleans Response $6 million
· Tourism Events $7.5 million
Based on studies conducted by the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, they have found that:
· 29 percent of poll respondents who had plans to visit Louisiana cancelled or postponed their trips because of the spill
· 28 percent of poll respondents believe that the oil spill is as bad as or worse than Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
· 80 percent of poll respondents believe the oil spill will affect Louisiana for at least two years
Governor Jindal said, "This $30 million in funding for our tourism industry is a critical investment for reversing this negative perception from the oil spill. We must give our communities every tool they need to recover from the spill and restore our Louisiana way of life, and we know many businesses all across our state depend on the economic activity generated by tourism."