The Louisiana fishing industry has broken through a major obstacle to resumption of full-scale shrimp, crab, and finfish operations: the near total absence of industrial ice-making capacity along the Gulf Coast.
This occasion was marked by the dedication of the Southeast Louisiana Regional Ice Hub in a ceremony including Gov Kathleen Blanco, Secretary of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Dwight Landreneau, representatives from the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Foundation, and Shell Oil Co.
The Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005 caused $1 billion worth of infrastructure damage to the $2.3 billion Louisiana fishing industry. The Louisiana coast is home to three of the 10 largest United States fishing docks, yet no federal funds have made it to the industry for infrastructure.
“You weathered quite a blow from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” Blanco told industry representatives during a news conference. “Many of you lost your boats. The storms wiped out the ice houses and the infrastructure that supports you.” She said the ice-making facilities “will allow you to expand your ability to harvest, transport, and sell your shrimp and fish.”
For the past year, ice-making capacity for 100 miles of shoreline has been virtually non-existent. The regional ice hub is in Chalmette in order to serve fishermen in St Bernard, Plaquemines, Orleans, and St Tammany Parishes.
Shell donated $500,000 to the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Foundation for the purchase, delivery, and installation of three industrial ice machines.