The potential economic impact of losses to the commercial and recreational seafood industries in Louisiana by Hurricane Katrina could reach up to $1.6 billion over the next 12 months, according to a preliminary draft report by the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. While officials still need to conduct comprehensive assessments on the water and from the air, experts are already concerned that some commercial anglers will exit the trade as cheaper imports flood the market. "The industry is not going to exist for some period of time," says John Roussel, assistant secretary of the department.
Roughly 33 percent of all wholesale and retail seafood dealers reside in the impacted region, as do 63 percent of the state's charter boats. Rex H. Caffey, director of the Center for Natural Resource Economics and Policy at Louisiana State University, considers the preliminary impact released by the state to be "extremely conservative," especially since his office estimated commercial dockside prices to be about $1 billion earlier this year. Louisiana produces more seafood than any other state in the lower 48. "I never conceived losing this much of the market at one time," Caffey says.
David Lavergne, a fisheries economist with the state, says all the natural resources devastated by Hurricane Katrina are renewable, although no one knows when they may return. The preliminary study puts the potential loss at the docks, which is the first point of sale for fishermen, at $12 million for crab, $44 million for oysters, $11 million for saltwater fish and $81 million for shrimp. None of the figures, however, include losses from damaged boats, shut processing plants and damage to other equipment. Consumers may feel a temporary pinch from high prices, officials say, but that is unlikely to last as cheaper imports offer an alternative. ' Jeremy Alford
MURPHY OIL'S NEW LAFAYETTE HOME
Murphy Oil Corp. has leased space in Saloom Office Park on Asma Boulevard to put its New Orleans-based employees back to work, says Kevin Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the oil and gas exploration and production company.
Before Hurricane Katrina, Murphy employed about 300 people out of its downtown New Orleans office, including support personnel for E&P, refinery operations and downstream retail. In all, El Dorado, Ark.-based Murphy has about 6,000 employees.
Fitzgerald says the company has not yet decided how many New Orleans employees will work in Lafayette and whether the stay here will be permanent ' a move that would buck a longstanding trend of oil companies moving out of Lafayette. "All of those kinds of decisions haven't been made," he says. "We've got to get a bit of normalcy back to our lives."
The company's refinery in Meraux, where oil spilled into floodwaters after the hurricane, is still down. The hurricane also damaged some of Murphy's offshore facilities and hampered communication. ' Leslie Turk
The Lafayette superintendent insists the budget is illegal and vows to fight on.
"I am not a scientist," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said numerous times, a response that other members of his party have parroted.
Republicans are running strong races against endangered Democratic incumbents in states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Republicans are also looking to replace retiring Democrats in Iowa and West Virginia with a GOP lawmaker.
Republican congressman Vance McAllister is trying to make up to Louisiana voters for getting too close to a married former employee.
You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
If opposing defenses sell out to stop the Packers' passing game, they risk being gashed by powerful running back Eddie Lacy, a New Orleans-area native.
At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.