Salinity Control Project expected to help fisheries - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Salinity Control Project expected to help fisheries

It's been a rough five months for commercial fishermen who catch various species, including oysters and crabs but state wildlife officials say there's a project in the works may help those who depend on fishing to feed their families.

For oyster fishermen, it was the early closure of the season. For crabbers, the recent month - with no fishing because of concern about overfishing - shut down many fin fishermen like Eddie Lejuine who couldn't get bait.

"They didn't realize when they closed the crabbing down for a month that it also affected every drum fisherman in the coast of Louisiana. We use crab to catch our drum with," he said. 

And for years, commercial fishermen have blamed water control structures for hurting fishing.

Yet state Wildlife and Fisheries officials said a project in the works will likely help all fishermen. Marine biologist Patrick Banks is the assistant secretary for the Office of Fisheries. 

He said the proposed Calcasieu Ship Channel Salinity Control Project would help keep the higher salinity waters from the Gulf from entering Calcasieu Lake.

"That should help bring down the salinities in the lake and therefore, help our oyster population. It should also hopefully help the surrounding marshes, such that the weirs don't have to be closed so much and there'll be a lot better ingress and egress of our fisheries species into the marshes and out into the lake." 

Lejuine thinks that sounds promising.

"I wish they would have started this project 10 years ago. It can't start quick enough for me. I think it's going to help recreation and commercial harvests," he said.

The project is expected to benefit an estimated 21,000 acres of marsh over 50 years.  The estimated cost of the project is nearly $442 million.

Gov. John Bel Edwards identified the Calcasieu Salinity Control Project in a letter to President Donald Trump this month as one of five high priority coastal protection projects.

To read the letter click here and to read more about the project and other efforts go to Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

Copyright 2017 KPLC All rights reserved

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