Disaster declared for Mississippi oyster and blue crab fisheries from 2011 flooding
BILOXI, Miss. -- September 18, 2012 -- Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank issued a fishery disaster declaration Sunday for Mississippi, the Northeast and Alaska.
The declaration for Mississippi means help could be on the way for South Mississippi's commercial crab and oyster fishermen affected by 2011's Mississippi River flooding.
The flood forced officials to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway, sending fresh water into Lake Pontchartrain and the Rigolets.
The freshwater then made its way into the Mississippi Sound and dropped salinity levels into the lower single digits from their customary 20 to 24 parts per thousand.
The low salinity levels damaged most of the oyster reefs in the western Mississippi Sound near Bay St. Louis.
The state Department of Marine Resources is rebuilding the reefs.
Blue crab commercial fishing industry was also damaged by the flood waters, which reached the eastern end of the Gulfport Ship Channel.
According to a NOAA website, the declaration opens the door for Congress to appropriate money toward alleviating the financial hardship caused by the disaster. If money is appropriated, NOAA will work with Congress and the states to develop plans to preserve coastal communities.
Read the full story at the Biloxi Sun Herald