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Coastal Desk

Lieutenant Governor Pardons Crawfish To Kick Off Season

Travis Lux
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser pardons Emile the Crawfish from a boiled future.

The weather is warm, Mardi Gras is over and it’s festival season. That means, time for crawfish boils.


Despite the slow start to crawfish season, officials held a celebration Tuesday to mark the opening of the season. But for the second year in a row, one crawfish got off a little easy.

Emile the crawfish is named after Emile Zatarain — the founder of the food and spice company Zatarain’s. Today is his lucky day, because he’s about to be pardoned — spared from future backyard boils.


Cameras flashed and Zydeco music filled the air as Emile was paraded into the room. His human chauffeur carried him in a crawfish trap, down a red carpet, before plopping him into a fish tank. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser gave the official pardon.

Credit Travis Lux / WWNO
Emile the Crawfish awaits his pardon.


"No more onions and tomatoes and garlic," he said to Emile, whose tank was perched atop a podium. "So you'll be free of all those other products that your family will enjoy in the boiling pot."


The crawfish industry is worth more than $200 million. And Nungesser says 90 percent of America’s crawfish comes from Louisiana. But so far this year, crawfish season is off to a slow start. Prices are high and the crawfish are a little small. Brac Salyer is a biologist with Louisiana Fish and Wildlife. He says that’s because of cold weather last month.


"It really slows their metabolism down," Salyer says, "And they basically just go into kind of a hibernation and don't really eat or or grow during that time period."


Salyer says it’s not that the season will be abbreviated, but that the peak has been delayed a few weeks. In other words, he still expects the season to turn out well, but it will just take a little longer for the crawfish to get nice and plump.


Emile the crawfish turned down a request for comment. He’ll live out the rest of his days in the swamps of Bayou Segnette State Park.


Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Foundation for Louisiana, and local listeners.

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