While working in Southern Louisiana, we had the privilege of meeting and working with several local fisherman. What a unique and little known corner of our american economy….

Louisiana’s commercial fishing industry produces 25 percent of all the seafood in America. The fisherman in Plaquemines Parish and St. Bernard’s Parish ALONE create over $400 million a year in taxable revenue. It was not until traveling into their very backyards (or, back “waters”) that we began to realize the enormity of their loss. The entire fishing industry here has been COMPLETELY compromised by hurricane Katrina.

Not only have their ships been destroyed- some groups have declared local waters to be unfishable for years to come.
George Barishich is the president of the U.C.F.A. (United Commercial Fisherman’s Association). Despite the loss of his livliehood, George’s family has rallied around him as he fights to bring the fishing industry back to its feet.
Tom and Dorothy Nguyen are also doing their best to keep their heads above water. Tom and Dorothy have two sons; one of whom is soon to be deployed to Iraq. All they ask is a helping hand- Someone to help them get their boat back in the water and fishing once again….given the circumstances I don’t think this is to much to ask…BUT HELP HAS YET TO MATERIALIZE.

Given the lack of response from the local government, or insurance carriers, US Coast Gaurd is using a crane to lift boats from the river banks, bayous, and shallow bays. Basically, whatever they can reach with the crame. Unfortuantely, a lot of boats are being destroyed in the process. Many of the large fishing vessels will need to be hoisted from above using large slings that attach to the hull in multiple places. Remember, the water reached up to 35ft so many boats were washed inland. This is a costly remedy, that in all likliehood requires the use of a twin-rotor helicopter. In some areas like St. Bernard’s, a lot of boats survived the storm but the fisherman are faced with record high fuel prices and rock bottom shrimp prices causing their boats to stay tied up. The major dilemma the oyster industry is facing is the increase in the number of shrimpers becoming full-time oyster harvesters. Another option is for the displaced shrimpers enter the crab industy in a last ditch effort to even survive. The last resort is bankruptcy. Unfortunately, no one at a Federal level has stepped up to answer many of these concerns.

As we head south we will keep you updated on our effort to help George and the fishermen of St. Bernard’s and Plaquemines Parish.

Below is a letter written by George, on behalf of the fisherman’s association, to sanctioned members of the US and local governments:

The united commercial fishermen’s association on behalf of
the surviving commercial fishermen, respectfully requests some
immediate assistance in the following areas. We request these so our
fishermen who are able to go back to work can go and we can start to
re-stimulate the economy of the costal parishes as we have done for

1)Dredge out the violet canal to the Mississippi River Gulf outlet to
allow the remaining vessels safe ingress and digress into the port.

2) Dredge out and remove the debris in Shell Beach Bayou and Hopedale
Bayou so our boats can safely bring in products and get the fresh,
safe, domestic seafood to the processors and restaurants.

3)Expedite the funding to rebuild the fuel dock in Shell Beach,owned by
Frank Campo (Blackie), to get potable water as soon as possible in
Shell Beach.

4)Expedite the funding for rebuilding the ice house in Yscloskey, owned
by Marty Nunez and family located in St.Bernard Parish.

5)Permanent suspension of the T.E.D. regulations:
(A) Turtle populations and nesting sites now outnumber-commercial
(B) Excess debris from the storms will be moving around for the next
(C) The increase in catch without the T.T.D.’s will offset some of the
high fuel prices and low shrimp prices.

6)NEED to get a fuel subsidy or low cost fuel to to help fisherman
obtain a large enough profit-margin to rebuild their business and homes.

7)Establish a price support program to offset the rock bottom market
price for the domestic shrimp harvest with a moratorium on the number
of shrimpers until the price comes up to a fair market value for
domestic shrimpers.

8)For over 12 years U.C.F.A. has been the voice of the commercial
fishermen helping both the fisherman understand the laws and the
government understand why they are unwarranted and are also killing our
industry. The U.C.F.A. office was totally destroyed, so we need
financial support to help the industry rebuild to the point where it
can once again fund its own association. If possible please include a
grant to the united commercial fisherman’s association so we can
locate our fishermen and keep them informed of the progress and and
programs that may help them recover.

** If you have any questions on any of these requests please call
George at (504)-439-2013**

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