Release Date: 10/11/2005

The Louisiana Department and Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) preliminary estimates for storm-related fisheries losses at the retail level could exceed $2 billion over the next year. The latest estimates combine $981 million in production losses for parishes affected by Hurricane Rita with the $1.29 billion losses projected for areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina for a total of $2.27 billion.  That number represents 80 percent of the total commercial and recreational retail harvest values in 2003, based on sales levels of $2.85 billion.
Estimates for losses from Hurricane Rita are based on analysis of fisheries resources in half of Lafourche, Terrebonne and St. Martin over a six-month period. A twelve-month recovery period was calculated for Assumption, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, Acadia, Avoyelles, St. Mary, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Vermilion, Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, based on damage done by Rita in those areas. Those factors considered include the hurricanes path, aerial observations of the impacted area conducted on Sept. 26 and 27, on the ground surveys and staff reports summarizing the status of the fishing fleet and individual commercial and recreational fishing establishments.
By comparison, Katrinas impact assessment assumed that the hurricanes impact was limited to the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and half of Lafourche.  LDWF also documented extensive fish kills in Tangipahoa, Livingston, Ascension, St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes.  Estimated losses from Katrina were based on available historical data using previous losses sustained after hurricanes and landings averaged over the past five years.
As was the case for the projections with Katrina, the estimated losses for damage done by Rita are subject to adjustment as additional aerial observations and on the ground surveys are made over the next several months, said John Roussel, assistant secretary for LDWFs Office of Fisheries.
For oysters, LDWF biologists estimated the direct loss of resource valued at $13 million,
on the public grounds, by using recently developed estimates of stock size on these grounds prior to the hurricane and previous studies of hurricane related oyster mortality (Hurricane Andrew, 1992; Hurricane Lili, 2002, Hurricane Ivan, 2004), and current mortality estimates generated from post-storm field sampling.  Initial field sampling on public grounds in Terrebonne and Iberia Parishes indicated an overall mortality of approximately 30 percent.  However, the most heavily impacted area, the Calcasieu Lake public oyster area in Cameron Parish, has yet to be thoroughly investigated for oyster mortalities.
To determine the impact of Katrina on oysters, the department used studies of resource mortality caused by hurricanes Ivan and Andrew to estimate mortality of existing resources.  The initial estimate was a 99 percent mortality rate, representing a $206 million loss of oyster resources, in the area from Bayou Lafourche east to the Mississippi state line.  LDWF field biologists are collecting and analyzing data from these areas now, and expect the actual mortality to be somewhat lower.
The Rita-related retail level losses for the oyster industry reflect a two-year projected shortfall of $82 million when compared to the productivity of recent years.  Two-year retail level losses based on Katrinas damage total $296 million.
Recreational fisheries losses over the next year could total $421 million at the retail level.  This figure includes losses incurred by licensed charter and guide vessels operating in the severely affected parishes.
Potential retail sales losses for the states primary fishing industries:
12 Month
Potential Production
Losses at Retail Level
12 Month
Potential Production
Losses at Retail Level


    $      81,776,427
Freshwater Fish
    $        1,256,934
    $    296,427,648 *
Saltwater Fish
    $    172,145,944**
    $    538,996,879
Wild Crawfish
    $    ---------------
Recreational Fisheries
    $    199,517,744

    $ 1,290,121,576

* Oyster losses are for two (2) years.
** Includes Gulf Menhaden
Loss of infrastructure supporting the fisheries industry and long term impacts to fisheries habitat are more difficult to quantify.  Infrastructure losses are characterized as lost or damaged vessels, docks, ice plants and processing facilities, but also include cold storage facilities, boat ramps, launches, marinas and bait and tackle shops. Estimates are still being calculated for infrastructure lost or damaged by the two hurricanes.
EDITORS:  For more information, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-938-6391 bboehringer@wlf.louisiana.gov.