NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Mayor Latoya Cantrell declared a state of emergency Tuesday (July 9), in connection to the negative effects freshwater from the Bonnet Carre Spillway is having on the parish’s waterways.
Cantrell issued the following statement about declaration:
“This inundation threatens the state’s natural resources, including land, water, fish, wildlife, fowl and more in the Pontchartrain Basin. We are being mindful of New Orleans as a hub for the state’s commercial fishing industry — particularly in New Orleans East, which has been hit hard. That is why I am committing to doing everything in my power to mitigate the impact of this serious threat to our waterways.”
The announcement comes as local fishermen -- particularly those who rely on crabs and oysters for their livelihood -- have begun speaking out about the devastating toll the spillway has taken on the industry.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has reported that blue crab catches are 60 percent below the long-term averages and recreational trips in the Pontchartrain Basin are down 11 percent.
The Army Corps of Engineers has said they plan to close the spillway in the next few weeks and they expect the seafood production to bounce back afterwards. However, according to experts, it could be months before the full extent of the damages are known.
With the emergency declaration, Cantrell now has the ability to adapt any ordinances that could interfere with the steps the city takes to appropriately cope with the issue at hand. At the time of the proclamation, other nearby parishes had already issued their own state of emergency declarations, including St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.
Likewise, state representatives in Washington, D.C. are working on securing federal disaster aid.