Cassidy, Scalise urge relief for Louisiana’s seafood industry

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) seek a fishery disaster declaration for Louisiana from the U.S. Commerce Department Secretary that then would allow Congress to appropriate federal relief funds.

Sen. Cassidy and Rep. Scalise joined several GOP colleagues in sending a July 8 letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging him to implement a federal fisheries disaster declaration due to the opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway.

Each opening of the spillway flood control structure significantly impacts Lake Pontchartrain by allowing hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of fresh water to pour in, negatively impacting Louisiana’s seafood industry, according to their letter.

“For the first time in history, the United States Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, twice in one year to relieve pressure on the adjacent levee system,” wrote Rep. Scalise, Sen. Cassidy and six other lawmakers. “The spillway remains open and the consequences are being felt by the recreational and commercial sectors in south Louisiana. Assistance is critical to address current and future impacts.”

The members urged Secretary Ross to use his authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management Act and the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act to begin an immediate review of the impacts to Louisiana’s fishery resources and local economies.

Rep. Scalise, Sen. Cassidy and their colleagues also pointed out that south Louisiana’s fishing community already is compromised by “unfair competition from seafood imports” and a low-oxygen dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that doesn’t adequately support aquatic life.