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 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.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
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.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
Chris Williams knows how to pilfer from the public coffers, this time with a back-pay lawsuit filed three years ago against the Lafayette Housing Authority, which netted the former city-parish councilman a cool five figures.
McAllister's office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged.
The Green Army's Lafayette brigade has announced it will pay a visit Friday morning to Sen. Page Cortez to urge him to vote against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553, which the group is calling the "Big Oil Bailout Bill of 2014."