Then last year, the Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded off Louisiana, releasing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, idling fishing once more. Yet despite the massive oil spill and its accompanying frustrations, Louisiana keeps putting one foot in front of the other, trying to get back to business.
Now, the state’s oyster industry faces another hurdle courtesy of the swollen Mississippi River. According to the Associated Press, the Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to release freshwater from the Bonnet Carre Spillway to protect people, homes and businesses situated along the Mississippi. The Corps may also open the Morganza Spillway located some 35 miles northwest of Baton Rouge.
Doing so will divert water out of the Mississippi and relieve pressure on the river’s levees. Unfortunately, the influx of freshwater into Louisiana oyster beds could also cause significant mortalities. Oysters prefer saltier waters.
Should a significant number of oysters perish, Nicholls State University biology professor Earl Melancon Jr. told the AP, recovery of Louisiana’s oyster industry from the oil spill could be set back a year.
“It’s Mother Nature giving us another blow after what BP did last year,” Melancon told the AP. “That’s dramatic for these oystermen.”
Louisiana’s commercial fishing industry members have been living for months in “survival mode” as one oyster company owner put it. Seems like now would be as good a time as any for the fates to start reimbursing them for all the karma points they’ve built up.