gulf coast seafood

A specially cultivated oyster from the waters around Grand Isle.
Ian McNulty

Oysters are a staple of Louisiana’s culture and cuisine, but because of storms, engineering and river flooding, the industry has been struggling for decades.

Now oyster farmers and fishers might be getting some help from the state.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Louisiana’s Department of Health is shutting down several oyster harvesting areas due to low salinity caused by a steady influx of freshwater from the Bonnet Carre Spillway. 

The spillway, which diverts flood water from the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain, has been open for more than 95 days this year. That’s kept a steady stream of fresh water flowing into areas where oysters grow.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The commercial fishing industry on the Gulf Coast has seen two major disasters in the last 15 years: Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. Now, some fear we’re on the cusp of a third. The culprit: historic flooding from the Mississippi River.