Sunday, May 26, 2024

PAR: Louisiana seafood industry’s economic impact over $2.4 Billion

by BIZ Magazine

With the weather getting warmer and the days growing longer, Louisiana’s favorite season is kicking into full gear: seafood season.

As the nation’s second-largest seafood supplier, Louisiana is known for its plentiful harvests of seafood products such as crawfish, shrimp, crabs, oysters and alligators.

Louisiana’s seafood industry is not only important for the acclaim it brings the Bayou State but also for the revenue it generates and the jobs it provides. One out of every 70 jobs in Louisiana is related to the seafood industry, which has an economic impact of more than $2.4 billion annually for the state, according to the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

Some of the data presented below predates the impact of four major hurricanes that ravaged coastal Louisiana, a region comprising the bulk of the state’s commercial fishing industry.

Crawfish

As the official state crustacean, crawfish remain a touchstone of Louisiana culture. Louisiana leads the nation in freshwater crawfish aquaculture, producing more than 90% of the domestic crop, according to the Louisiana Crawfish Promotion and Research Board. The combined harvest by more than 1,600 farmers and 800 commercial fishermen yields about 130 million pounds of crawfish annually, as reported by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
Shrimp

The second most abundant crustacean in Louisiana is shrimp. In 2018, the state landed 97 million pounds of shrimp with a value of more than $120 million. Louisiana’s harvest also accounts for 33% of all shrimp caught in the United States, according to Louisiana Fisheries Forward, a collaborative education and training program from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program at LSU.

Crabs

Louisiana’s seafood industry also relies on commercial blue crab fisheries. In 2021, Louisiana fishermen brought in about 47.4 million pounds of blue crabs, which were valued at $90 million. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reports that commercial landings of blue crabs have remained above 40 million pounds yearly since 1997.

Oysters

The fourth staple of Louisiana’s seafood industry is oysters. Louisiana brings in an average 11 million pounds of oysters every year, consistently outranking all other Gulf of Mexico states, as reported by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Louisiana not only leads the Gulf South in oyster landings but accounts for 50% of the nation’s oysters, as well.

Louisiana’s fisheries, already under pressure from imported seafood, rely on favorable temperatures and weather conditions for a sizeable harvest; therefore, the hurricanes of 2020 and 2021 were especially devastating to the seafood industry.  

A collaborative report created by the LSU Agricultural Center and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries found that the landfall of Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta and Ida between 2020 and 2021 cost the seafood industry upwards of $570 million in total revenue and resource losses.  

Not only did the four hurricanes cause an estimated $304 million in damages to fishing infrastructure, but the hurricanes also severely lessened the industry’s income from different seafood products. The estimated revenue losses for Louisiana fishing related businesses in 22 coastal parishes totaled $155 million and the remaining $118 million came from natural resource losses such as oysters and finfish.

An important caveat to the report: Damages to aquaculture farming, which provides a majority of the state’s crawfish supply, was not included in the findings of this study due to data limitations. 

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