Mississippi and Louisiana officials are waiting to hear back from the United States Department of Commerce in response to requests by both states’ governors to declare a federal fisheries disaster area in Mississippi and Louisiana because of the adverse environmental and economic impacts from the recent spillway openings to alleviate flooding.
If the U.S. Department of Commerce declares both states federal fisheries disaster areas, federal funds could be used in a timely manner to help address the ongoing problems from the spillway openings as trillions of gallons of freshwater continues to gush into the Mississippi Sound, killing a record number of marine life and contributing to dead zones in coast waters.
State Attorney General Jim Hood says Mississippi has taken the brunt of adverse effects from the Bonnet Carre spillway openings. While opening that spillway helps to ease massive flooding in much of Louisiana, trillions of gallons of freshwater have poured into the Mississippi Sound, driving down the water’s salinity, which is killing marine life and contributing to oxygen-deprived zones in Mississippi waters. Many believe this directly contributed to the late opening of Mississippi’s shrimp season, while also pointing to an 80 percent kill rate of oysters in some areas of the Mississippi Sound.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has recently awarded $1.7 million dollars to assist in disaster recovery to help flooding in the Hattiesburg area.