Fishing has been a part of Louisiana life since the earliest inhabitants settled the area. Settlers hunted and fished in the abundant water bodies of Louisiana for survival. – In today’s society, Louisiana fisheries have evolved into powerhouse contributors to the economic well-being of the state of Louisiana and the nation.
The commercialization of Louisiana’s fishing industry occurred during the antebellum era between 1812 and 1860 as New Orleans became one North America’s boom towns . Today, Louisiana fisheries are just as important to the people and state. Thanks to federal, state, and local programs, Louisiana’s traditional fishermen still have the ability to provide quality seafood and recreation.
Today, Louisiana fisheries are just as important to the people and state as it was then. Thanks to federal, state, and localized programs Louisiana traditional fisherman still have the ability to provide quality seafood and recreation.
Quick Facts about the Louisiana Seafood Industry :
- The second-largest seafood supplier in the United States
- 1 out of 70 Louisiana jobs are related to the seafood industry
- One third of all the seafood consumed in the U.S. is from Louisiana
- Shrimp accounts for $1.3 Billion for Louisiana
- Oyster fishing accounts for $317 Million annually
- Crab accounts for $293 Million annually
- Crawfish accounts for $120 Million annually
- Estimated economic impact of $2.4 Billion annually
Almost 70 percent of the seafood harvested off the Gulf Coast is consumed by Louisianans. Today, Louisiana has numerous programs that help keep the seafood industry successful, sustainable, and environmentally-minded. Programs like Louisiana Fisheries Forward, funded by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and Sea Grant, provide guidance for Louisiana fishermen, harvesters, docks, and processors . Their website provides access to a digital library on best practices in the commercial fishing industry (videos, regulation guidelines, safety, responsible fishing, sustainability and business basics). Another program, the Lafourche-Terrebonne Direct Seafood Program was launched to help increase fishermen income and support social interactions with the public. Funded by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, the program assists locals and visitors in purchasing fresh local seafood directly from the fishers online or with a smart phone .
Research by university scientists and fisheries resource managers focuses on the challenging issues affecting our coast and fisheries . The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Louisiana Sea Grant apply specific research initiatives to support sustainable and healthy practices to the fishing industry. For example, current research on finding a sulfite-free alternative that effectively treats black spot in shrimp will allow dealers and processors to use ‘chem-free’ labeling .
Black-spot in shrimp is a harmless discoloration in shrimp caused by a system of enzymes that are naturally present in shrimp . This discoloration can increase when exposed to air for too long, and deters consumers from purchasing shrimp as their color darkens . Traditionally, sodium sulfites were used in preventing black spot in shrimp ,but its known now that a small population of people are allergic to sodium sulfites . Research by the Louisiana Sea Grant & LSU AgCenter provides an alternative enzyme-based product to prevent black spot in shrimp. This alternative increases the marketing ability for fisheries and safety for those allergic to sulfites .
Advanced mapping systems by zone and seafood type can be pulled from the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries website and sorted by recreational and commercial fishing.
The CWPPRA Watermarks Issue #55 notes, “For over 50 years, almost every document addressing Louisiana’s land loss, mentions ‘wetlands and the fish dependent thereon” . CWPPRA uses a Wetland Value Assessment (WVA) to determine quality and quantity of fish and wildlife habitat. Together, groups like the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries along with CWPPRA are working together to restore coastal Louisiana where people and wildlife have lived for generations.