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Morganza Spillway could negatively impact seafood industry

Posted at 6:10 PM, May 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-27 19:17:03-04

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the opening of the spillway could have a negative impact on marine life, like oysters and crawfish.

Though it’s hard to predict what will happen, Ben Bienvenu, a crawfish farmer in Catahoula, believes it will be tough for a few weeks but then will ultimately be better in the long run.

“The rivers have never been so high for this long,” said Bienvenu, who has been fishing in the Atchafalaya Basin his whole life.

He says back in 2011 when the spillway last opened, catching crawfish was tough because the current was so strong. Fishermen couldn’t get to their traps and the traps wouldn’t stay on the ground.

“After the water receded you didn’t have as much current when the water down. I guess they came back. But towards the end of the season we made a good season, you know the crawfish were back again,” he recalled.

The flooding could impact another Louisiana favorite. Warmer water, and lower saline levels could affect oyster beds in the Atchafalaya and Vermilion.

“It could do a lot, it could slow our season down, it could slow the product, the production of them for sure. We can maybe be struggling to get oysters,” said kitchen manager at Don’s Seafood, Trevor Laborde.

All this could affect prices for consumers and fisherman.

“It’s the fishermen that suffer from that little thing you know, fishermen will get paid less and the public will have to pay more,” said Bienvenu.

The spillway is set to open June 2nd.

As fishermen keep a close eye on their crop, they’re saying only time will tell and hopefully they can brace themselves for what’s to come.

To read more of our previous stories on the spillway, click here.