Archive for Seafood
This story was originally posted on the Coalition the Restore Coastal Louisiana's Coastal Currents blog.
By Scott Madere, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
Our coastal wetlands have immeasurable worth to Louisiana in terms of culture. Our history, art, celebrations, recreational opportunities and so much more are tied to the muddy waters and vast green expanse of our swamps, forests and coastal marsh. Our love for our land defines us as a people, and we often cite it to those who are not from here as the main reason why Louisiana’s coast is worth saving. It seems natural for us to talk about the coast this way, but to those outside of Louisiana it may be a little hard to understand. That’s why it’s also valuable to be able to talk about Louisiana’s worth in another way: raw dollars, the sheer economic value that the Mississippi River Delta provides to the nation.
Understanding the massive dollar value of what Louisiana provides to the country helps us make the case to our fellow Americans that Louisiana is worth the resources sent here to restore our wetlands. In a political environment where budgets are tight and decisions are made based on investment return, this could potentially be Louisiana’s best angle toward building more national support for restoration.
So let’s explore it. The Mississippi River Delta Science and Engineering Special Team (SEST), made up of 22 of our nation’s best coastal scientists and engineers, published a report in 2012: “Answering 10 Fundamental Questions About the Mississippi River Delta.” Within the report, SEST compiled some convincing data about the economic value of Louisiana’s coast from a number of sources. Here are some of the highlights:
- Mississippi River Delta ecosystems provide economically valuable services to the people of our state such as storm protection, fresh water, food, habitat, waste treatment and other benefits. These annual benefits alone are worth up to $47 billion per year to our citizens. With these annual benefits taken into consideration, the present value of the Delta’s ecosystem services could range as high as $1.3 trillion.
- Between 80 and 90 percent of Louisiana’s economy, seafood production and quality of life is linked to coastal ecosystem goods and services.
- Commercial fisheries have a yearly impact of $2.85 billion.
- Recreational fishing generates $1.7 billion annually.
- Economic activity linked to wildlife (hunting, wildlife watching, trapping, etc.) exceeds $1.6 billion each year.
- Tourism generates as much as $10 billion every year for Louisiana.
- The deepwater ports along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans collectively form the largest tonnage port in the Western Hemisphere. Waterborne commerce in this corridor generates $35 billion annually and as many as 300,000 jobs.
And we haven’t even mentioned oil and gas yet.
According to the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association:
- Our state is the nation’s number one producer of crude oil and the number two producer of natural gas among the 50 states.
- Approximately 80 percent of the nation’s offshore oil and gas resources come from or through Louisiana. That equates to 30 percent of the nation’s energy consumption.
- The Louisiana oil and gas industry exceeds $70 billion of economic impact annually.
After reviewing this very short list of economic benefit provided to us by the coast, it is easy to see two undeniable facts.
First, Louisiana’s coast is an economic engine that needs to be protected. In a time when so much national focus is set on employment numbers, Louisiana contributes positively by providing hundreds of thousands of jobs related to the coast. Even more jobs can be provided by the coastal restoration process itself.
Secondly, placing a national priority on Louisiana coastal restoration is a wise move. The 2012 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan sets a cost of $50 billion to fund its 50-year coordinated coastal restoration strategy. When compared to the potential economic output of Louisiana for the next 50 years, that $50 billion price tag actually seems small.
In the years ahead, Louisiana’s citizens will have to continue to make the case, both on Capitol Hill and in Baton Rouge, that coastal restoration is a top national priority. The numbers do add up when it comes to supporting that claim, and our leaders and citizens should feel confident in taking that position when seeking support from others around the country.No Comments
It's been exactly 1,000 days since the BP-operated oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, gushing millions of barrels of crude oil into a body of water that supports countless ecosystems and economies.
Below is a timeline of major events that have occurred in the last 1,000 days.
- Restorethegulf.org, "First oiled bird is recovered."
- Restorethegulf.org, "NOAA Expands Fishing Closed Area in Gulf of Mexico."
- The New York Times, "Effects of Spill Spread as Tar Balls Are Found."
- TIME, "100 Days of the BP Spill: A Timeline."
- The White House, "Executive Order 13554–Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force."
- Bloomberg, "BP Oil Still Ashore One Year After End of Gulf Spill."
- PNAS, "Impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on a deep-water coral community in the Gulf of Mexico."
- University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, "Study confirms oil from Deepwater Horizon disaster entered food chain in the Gulf of Mexico."
- The Times-Picayune, "About 565,000 pounds of oiled material from Deepwater Horizon stirred up by Hurricane Isaac."
- The New York Times, "BP Will Plead Guilty and Pay Over $4 Billion."
- Georgia Tech Biology, "Gulf of Mexico Clean-Up Makes 2010 Spill 52-Times More Toxic."
- University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, "UMiami scientists partner with NOAA, Stanford and U of N Texas to study post spill fish toxicology."
- NOAA Fisheries Service, "2010-2013 Cetacean Unusual Mortality Event in Northern Gulf of Mexico."
- The Times-Picayune, "Transocean to pay $1.4 billion to settle pollution, safety violations in Gulf oil spill."
By Whit Remer, Policy Analyst, Environmental Defense Fund
It’s been an exciting year for Louisiana and the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign.
In July 2011, nine gulf senators banded together and introduced the RESTORE Act – legislation that would ensure penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the gulf oil spill would be used to restore the gulf region’s environment and economy. In September, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the bill and in October, Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) and 20 other gulf representatives introduced the House version of the bill. Supporters worked hard and waited patiently as the RESTORE Act continued winding its way through congressional hearings and historic votes until finally, on June 29, 2012, the RESTORE Act was included as part of the final transportation bill and days later signed into law by the President. It was an amazing journey from start to finish, and we want to take a moment to reflect on the past year and begin looking forward to how the RESTORE Act will unfold to become the single largest environmental restoration investment ever made by Congress.
The idea of spending penalty money from the oil spill on environmental and economic restoration in the gulf region is only fair. Diverse groups, including conservation organizations, the Secretary of the Navy, chambers of commerce from across the gulf region and even a special commission created by the President in response to the spill, all agreed it was the right thing to do. Heeding this call, Congress came together to design a bill to return the money where it belongs: to the Gulf Coast. In the Senate, the RESTORE Act received 76 votes – a remarkable display of bipartisanship which highlights the broad support had by the bill. Of course, it could not have happened without our campaign’s supporters, who used social media, letters to the editor and appeals to their congressional representatives to make the bill a top priority.
Looking forward, we are excited that the RESTORE Act has the potential to make the environment and economies of the Gulf Coast healthy again. The RESTORE Act includes a list of various eligible activities that states may use funds for, ranging from coastal restoration and shoreline protection to seafood and tourism promotion. All of these activities will provide new job opportunities for residents along the Gulf Coast and across the nation. As a recent Duke University report shows, the RESTORE Act is a win for the entire country.
The RESTORE Act also sets up a Restoration Council comprised of various federal agencies and states affected by the spill to create an environmental restoration plan for the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast. The plan has the potential to address major, and very expensive, challenges in the Mississippi River Delta. A top funding priority in the plan for Louisiana will be designing and constructing large-scale sediment diversions along the lower Mississippi River. Sediment diversions provide wetlands with essential supplies of fresh water and new silt which help rebuild land and protect the coast.
Over the next few months, the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign will update readers on important RESTORE Act developments. We hope to provide you with useful information as the Restoration Council forms and begins the important process of creating a restoration plan for America’s Gulf Coast.
Stay tuned.1 Comment
By Meg Sutton, Environmental Defense Fund
Oyster reefs in coastal estuaries around the globe have been degraded for the past 100-200 years due to a combination of overfishing, harmful dredging practices, decreasing water quality, sedimentation and oyster diseases.1 Many formerly productive reefs are now functionally extinct, and it is estimated that 85 percent of reefs have been lost globally.2 The majority of commercial oysters are currently sourced from only five eco-regions in the world, concentrated on the east coast of North America and the northern Gulf of Mexico.2 In Louisiana, restoration of oyster reefs has been proposed to both mitigate the decline in stocks and to secure a number of co-benefits which oysters provide. Such restoration has an associated cost which has some asking: How much is an oyster worth?
Restoration of oyster reefs in the gulf would impart several benefits to the region including increases in oyster and fish stocks, improved water quality, erosion control, storm attenuation and economic stimulus for local businesses. Each of these benefits has an associated economic value and should be factored into the decision to bring oyster reef restoration to scale.
The most readily apparent economic benefit of oyster reef restoration is an increase in, or maintenance of, primary oyster productivity. Louisiana is the leading oyster producing state in the U.S., supporting an oyster industry that generates $35 million in dockside value annually.3 Additionally, oyster reefs serve as refuge and feeding ground for many estuarine species including fish, mobile crustaceans and invertebrates. This ecosystem benefit is especially pertinent along the Louisiana coast, where oyster reefs are the primary three-dimensional habitats available. In Louisiana, 23 percent of annual marine fishing occurs over oyster beds, and these areas provide approximately $2 million (2003 dollars) in fisheries value annually for coastal Louisiana.4
Oysters are filter feeders, and this filtration notably reduces the turbidity and nitrogen loading of their surrounding water. Reduction of turbidity — the removal of suspended solids — has been shown to have a significant recreational value for boating and beach swimming. The willingness to pay for reduction in bacteria and oil, as well as improvement in water color for beach goers, was estimated to be $23.39 per person per year.5 In a study of the Choptank River in Maryland, the economic value of the nitrogen removed by an oyster over a ten-year interval was found to be greater than the dockside value of the oyster.6 In a separate analysis, an acre of healthy oyster reef was estimated to yield $3,000 in de-nitrification value annually.7
Additionally, the three-dimensional oyster reef structure attenuates wave energy, which can reduce erosion rates. Oyster reefs are generally understood to dampen wave energy by creating frictional energy between their rough outer surfaces and the wave. The associated economic value of wave attenuation is hard to determine, as it varies based on location. One factor to consider, however, is that the Gulf of Mexico has over 8,000 miles of shoreline that are at risk for erosion.8 Erosion rates and risk of flooding due to storm surge will continue to increase over time with global climate change, environmental degradation and subsidence of the area. If we choose to armor these shorelines, the current option is to install a bulkhead. Bulkheads can cost up to $1 million per mile, while oyster cultch placement — a common method for oyster reef restoration — can be completed for one-third of the cost.8
The industrial and commercial activity that would be generated by large-scale gulf oyster restoration will additionally boost the economy in the Gulf Coast and provide new job opportunities in the gulf and in 17 other states.9 Such restoration efforts would generally benefit small businesses, creating opportunities for local residents to both build new business and contribute to the sustainability of their region.
Restoration of oyster reefs may be necessary to maintain oyster landings in Louisiana, and it would also contribute to the sustainability of the region through ecological co-benefits, shoreline protection and economic stimulus. While these benefits may be difficult to generalize to a per-oyster dollar value, it is clear that the overwhelming co-benefits of oyster reef restoration in Louisiana should be considered in conjunction with the total cost of restoration.
1 Grabowski, J.H. & Peterson, C.H. Restoring oyster reefs to recover ecosystem services. Theoretical Ecology Series 281-298 (Elsevier Academic Press: Burlington, MA, 2007).
2 Beck, M.W. et al. Oyster Reefs at Risk and Recommendations for Conservation, Restoration, and Management. BioScience 61, 107-116 (2011).
3 Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Oyster Stock Assessment Report. (Baton Rouge, LA, 2010).
4 Henderson, J. & O’Neil, J. Economic Values Associated with Construction of Oyster Reefs by the Corps of Engineers. United States Army C (2003).
5 Freeman, A.M.I. The Benefits of Water Quality Improvements for Marine Recreation : A Review of the Empirical Evidence. 10, 385-406 (1995).
6 Newell, R., Fisher, T., Holyoke, R. & Cornwell, J. Influence of Eastern Oysters on Nitrogen and Phosphorus Regeneration in Chesapeake Bay, USA. The comparative roles of Suspension Feeders in Ecosystems 47, 93-120 (2005).
7 Piehler, M.F. & Smyth, A.R. Habitat-specific distinctions in estuarine denitrification affect both ecosystem function and services. Ecosphere 2, (2011).
8 National Fish and Wildlife Federation. Toward a Healthy Gulf of Mexico: A Coordinated Strategy for Oyster Restoration in the Gulf. 1-6 (2012).
9 Duke Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness. Stokes, S., Wunderink, S., Lowe, M. & Gereffi, G. Restoring Gulf Oyster Reefs: Opportunities for Innovation (2012).
By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation
Water. Flashlight. Batteries. Canned food. It’s hurricane season. In coastal Louisiana, we’ll keep a close eye on the weather until November — hoping to dodge each swirling white storm that crops up on the radar.
As the world witnessed in 2005 during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana is dangerously vulnerable to strong storms. One major reason for our vulnerability is the collapse of coastal wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta in southern Louisiana. Since the 1930s, due in large part to manmade causes, we’ve lost about 1,900 square miles of land from the Louisiana coast – it's like losing the state of Delaware off the nation's map! These coastal wetlands play a critical role in protecting communities by helping buffer them from storm surge, wind and waves.
Here in Louisiana, we are still recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which cost nearly 2,000 lives and caused $91 billion in damages. At the same time, we are trying to get ahead of the next storm to prevent another horrific disaster by planning and advocating for coastal protection and restoration. The Louisiana Legislature just unanimously passed the Coastal Master Plan, a comprehensive 50-year plan for restoring our coast and protecting our natural resources. Coastal scientists continue to expand our knowledge and understanding of what is happening to our coast and how best to restore it. Thousands of people — from local school kids to celebrities to international visitors — are learning about the plight of Louisiana's wetlands and getting dirty in marshes planting grasses and trees every year!
Why all the attention? The Mississippi River Delta matters — to all of us. In addition to vital protection from storms, wetlands sustain vital industries like trade and seafood — the delta’s fisheries provide 25% of American seafood. The wetlands also provide wildlife habitat to hundreds of species, including the endangered Kemps Ridley sea turtle and the Piping Plover beach bird. These same wetlands and waterways contribute tens of billions of dollars to our national economy every year and support millions of jobs.
So as we ready ourselves for the 2012 hurricane season, let’s call for restoration — protecting communities and wildlife and sustaining the rich culture of America’s delta. Today, you have a great opportunity to help move restoration from plan to action. Click here to support the RESTORE Act, critical legislation moving through Congress, which will bring BP oil spill penalties back to Gulf Coast states to fund coastal restoration projects like those so badly needed in Louisiana.
We need your voice! Share this post with your friends and family and help us restore the Mississippi River Delta. And LIKE and SHARE this image on Facebook. Doing so will make a difference for hurricane seasons to come.No Comments
More than 100 Gulf Coast cities, municipalities, economic development groups and chambers of commerce urge Congress to pass RESTORE ActMay 30, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in BP Oil Disaster, Clean Water Act, Congress, Media Resources, Meetings/Events, RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act, Seafood, Videos
Yesterday, 118 leaders representing cities, municipalities, economic development groups and chambers of commerce from all five gulf states sent a joint letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to pass the RESTORE Act. If passed, the RESTORE Act would direct the majority of fines paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil spill back to Gulf Coast communities.
Both the Senate and House have passed versions of the RESTORE Act as part of their transportation bills. The legislation would dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties from the gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast environmental and economic restoration.
“Though the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was two years ago, many in the fishing and oil and gas communities are still building back after suffering tremendous economic and personal loss,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The RESTORE Act provisions in the final transportation bill are vital to Louisiana. These funds will help rebuild our precious wetlands, which provide our country national, energy and economic security. It’s imperative that the RESTORE Act receives passage by both chambers and is sent to President Obama’s desk for signature.”
At a press conference at The Wharf Express in Tallahassee, Fla., local leaders spoke to the media about the importance of restoring Florida’s economy after the oil spill and passing the RESTORE Act as soon as possible. Photos from the event can be viewed here.
“In Panama City Beach, our economy depends on beautiful natural resources that were injured in the BP oil disaster, including our alluring beaches and fresh Gulf seafood, which drive tourism to our restaurants, resorts, and businesses,” said Beth Oltman, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce in a statement released yesterday. “Passage of the RESTORE Act will not only put the Gulf Coast on the path to revitalize our precious natural resources but also to mend our economy.”
“The long-term viability of the Gulf is dependent upon preserving its coast. The economy and security of the nation is significantly dependent upon the Gulf,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. in a written statement. “With this interdependence in mind, passing the RESTORE Act is both a regional and national imperative.”
- Letter to House and Senate leadership from 118 Gulf Coast leaders
- Video: Gulf Leaders to Congress: Pass RESTORE Act
- Photos: Local Leaders Meet to Discuss Gulf Coast Restore Act – SLIDESHOW (WCTV)
- Officials support the Restore Act: Group meets at Wharf to express needs (Tallahassee Democrat)
- Gulf Coast coalition urges Congress to pass RESTORE Act (Mobile Press-Register)
- Gulf Coast cities, counties and business groups offer support for federal oil spill legislation (The Florida Current)
By Alisha A. Renfro, Ph.D. and Maura Wood, National Wildlife Federation
On March 10, Louisiana Sea Grant hosted their annual Louisiana Oyster Industry Convention in Kenner, La. The convention brings together members of Louisiana’s oyster industry and trade organizations to meet one another and discuss important issues.
This year’s meeting focused on new oyster culture methods as alternatives to traditional wild-seed and on bottom production. Speakers from Maine, Maryland, Virginia and Alabama presented on how their states have adapted and revitalized their oyster industries, including how they handle permit applications, types of equipment used, dealing with disease and predation, and marketing their product. Speakers acknowledged that there is a definite difference in scale between oyster production in Louisiana and other states, but proposed some techniques and lessons that could be applied here.
Tom Soniat of the University of New Orleans has developed a model that uses the retention of shell as a measure of oyster reef sustainability. Dr. Soniat reasons that if the reef is sustained, nature will take care of the rest. The model output calculates how much shell can be removed by fishing while still maintaining a sustainable reef. This model is dependent on a criterion for how much shell is needed for a sustainable reef and a good estimate of initial shell in the actual reef. Among the efforts to create and certify a high-quality product, using this model as a management tool could also ensure a sustainable product.
Other topics of discussion included product branding and Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan. The day finished up with Don Davis, Carl Brasseaux and Chris Senac talking about the history of oyster fishery in Louisiana, particularly Houma. Overall, it was an interesting conference and hopefully there will be more exploration of new techniques to adapt the Louisiana oyster fishery to future conditions.1 Comment
By Chris Pulaski, National Wildlife Federation
Louisiana seafood is getting a whole new look. On November 16, the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board (Louisiana Seafood) held a stakeholder summit in Houma, LA to update the region’s producers, distributors and retailers on the state of Louisiana seafood 18 months after the BP oil spill. Representatives introduced Louisiana Seafood’s new branding and marketing strategy—developed as part of BP’s $30 million payment for the promotion of Gulf seafood—as well as the new safety and monitoring measures they have implemented.
Randy Pausina with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDW&F) reviewed the data currently being gathered through trip reports and landings as well as the sampling from seafood–mainly shrimp, crabs and oysters. LDW&F’s sampling is funded by a 3-year, $13 million grant from BP which allows for around 329 samples per month. The results of the sampling, as well as other pertinent data, are available on the project’s website: www.gulfsource.org.
Researchers then unveiled results from recent surveys which indicate, among many findings, that the majority of seafood consumers are surprisingly between the ages 18-45, and that most of these “seafoodies” are eating seafood at home. Not surprisingly, shrimp tops the list of volume of Gulf seafood consumed, followed by crabs and oysters. Desire for Gulf seafood ranks slightly behind Alaska, New England and Pacific seafood markets.
Former Louisiana State University basketball coach Dale Brown gave a rousing address, calling for the seafood industry to remain undaunted in its willingness to overcome adversity and to speak with a unified voice. “If you want a helping hand, take a look at the end of your damn arm,” said Coach Brown.
The team of marketing and advertising specialists introduced a new look for Louisiana Seafood, calling for aggressive branding on every box and display cabinet. The strategy involves everyone: from fisherman to distributor to retailer—all the way from trap to table. The new look is clean and will target chefs and restaurateurs across the country, as well as retailers such as Whole Foods.
The event wrapped up with breakout sessions focused on three areas: commercial fisheries; processors, distributors and retailers; and tourism and economic development.
- Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board: www.louisianaseafood.com
- Louisiana Seafood Safety Plan: www.gulfsource.org