Gulf Coast seafood biz slammed by freshwater from floods

FILE - In an April 8, 2011 file photo, Dave Cvitanovich, an oysterman who has worked the waters of Louisiana his whole life, works on his boat at one of his oyster beds in Bay Jimmy in Plaquemine's Parish, La. His oysters were damaged by the fresh water diversion program by the state of Louisiana. It will be months before state officials know whether losses from floods and spillway openings qualify Louisiana as a fisheries disaster. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials say floods began around November 2018, and a full 12 months' data is needed to compare to averages for the previous 5 years. The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama asked months ago for US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to declare a fisheries disaster, making federal grants available to affected people. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Freshwater flooding has killed oysters in three states and cost Mississippi half of its blue crabs

NEW ORLEANS — Fresh water from Midwestern floods has killed oysters along the coasts of three states and cost Mississippi half of its blue crabs.

The head of Mississippi's Department of Marine Resources says water that came through a Louisiana spillway killed 95 percent of the oysters in his part of the Mississippi Sound and fed toxic algae blooms. Joe Spraggins says seafood and tourism businesses have lost $120 million to $140 million.

The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama asked months ago for U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to declare a fisheries disaster. That designation would allow federal grants to those whose livelihoods were affected.

Alabama canceled its oyster season.

A Louisiana fisheries official says it will be months before he has all the figures needed to say which fisheries qualify.

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