Flooding could spell disaster for MS seafood industry - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Flooding could spell disaster for MS seafood industry

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

As historic flooding along the Mississippi River continues moving south, the Corp of Engineers was forced to release fresh water through the Bonnet Carre Spillway near Norco, Louisiana Monday morning.

All of that fresh water will eventually make it into the Gulf of Mexico. And mixing fresh water with salt water could spell disaster for the seafood industry.

"It has the potential to create an imbalance that we have never seen before," said Joe Jewell with the Department of Marine Resources. "As a consequence, it will have a dramatic effect on the seafood and life forms in our marine environments."

Jewell said if more fresh water is released, and expectations are that it will, there could be a devastating effect on South Mississippi's seafood industry, especially the oyster industry on the west end of the coast.

"That could have a catastrophic impact on oyster resources and forms of all species in Hancock County marshes. That is the largest marsh area in the state of Mississippi."

An imbalance of fresh and salt water could strike a blow to shrimpers preparing for the opening of shrimp season.

"And it would force out all of the adult shrimp. It could have a catastrophic effect on a shrimp industry that could not happen at a worse time," said Jewell.

Some are predicting the spillway will remain open into mid June, even July. Joe Jewell said that could make matters worse.

"It will have a catastrophic effect on our shrimping industry and all of our seafood industries."

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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