The Delta and Seafood

Louisiana crabber looks for keepers

No matter where in the country you live, you've probably enjoyed oysters, crabs, shrimp and fish from the Mississippi River Delta thanks to Louisiana's commercial fishery, the largest in the lower 48 states:

  • More than a third of America's oysters are harvested from Louisiana waters.
  • Louisiana lands roughly 25 percent of the blue crabs caught nationwide.
  • Louisiana shrimpers catch roughly a million pounds of both brown and white shrimp every year.

The delta's fisheries sustain a large part of the coastal economy and support a unique way of life. Louisiana's seafood industry creates some 26,000 jobs and generates 2.4 billion dollars in economic impact every year. Recreational saltwater fishing adds another 750 million dollars in economic impact and supports almost 8,000 jobs in the state.

The Mississippi River Delta's abundant marshes and wide variety of salinities provide ideal habitat for oysters, shrimp, crabs and many species of fish. For example, juvenile shrimp and blue crabs seek protection in brackish marshes until they grow older and move out to open water. Oysters rely on the delicate mix of fresh and salt water found in the delta.

But as the delta's wetlands disappear, so does the ability to support this abundant marine life. Restoration projects that reconnect the river with its wetlands, and rebuild marsh, wetlands and barrier islands will ultimately support a more abundant seafood harvest.