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
At a recent fundraiser held not far from the banks of Capitol Lake, Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, spent more time eyeing the water body than the influencers at the party.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, April 21, 2014:
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.