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La commercial fishing to file suit over Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion

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I'll never understand these people


Leaders of Louisiana’s commercial fishing industry say legal action may be the last and best tool they have to fight a $2 billion restoration project that will dramatically alter a large section of the coast.
“It’s going to be litigation,” said Mitch Jurisich, an Empire oysterman and chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force. “It’s the only way to stop this.”
The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion is the flagship project of an ambitious state-led plan to fight coastal land loss. The diversion would funnel mud-laden Mississippi River water through a section of levee on the west bank of Plaquemines Parish and send it spilling into Barataria Bay, potentially rebuilding 28 square miles of marsh with river sediment.

Louisiana Mississippi River diversions and crevasses map

BY DAN SWENSON | GRAPHICS EDITOR
The project would mimic the natural riverine processes that created south Louisiana in the first place, diverting about 7 million tons of sediment into the Barataria Basin each year.
Louisiana’s land-loss crisis owes in large part to the levees that keep the Mississippi on its current path and protect the communities surrounding it from flooding. But that protection also means river sediment can’t rebuild vast sections of the coast that have been lost to rising seas, subsidence, erosion from oil and gas canals and other factors.
While many state leaders and environmental groups back the project, it’s clear the diversion will have wide-reaching effects on the Barataria region’s fishing communities. According to a recent environmental assessment by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the added sediment and freshwater “would likely have major, adverse impacts” on the basin’s oysters and brown shrimp. It would also harm populations of speckled trout and flounder, according to the Corps.
Last month, the Corps released its final environmental impact statement on the project. The nearly 13,000-page report paved the way for final approval in December and the start of construction early next year.
NO.diversionfish.adv.019.jpg

Acy Cooper, a third generation shrimper and Venice native, cleans Ms. Marla Kay as he gets ready for the upcoming shrimp season in Venice, La., Friday, March 19, 2021. Barataria Bay fishers, shrimpers and oyster farmers are concerned the $2 billion Mid-Barataria sediment diversion project will drive them out of business. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)
STAFF PHOTO BY SOPHIA GERMER
At a joint meeting of the state’s shrimp, crab and oyster task forces this week, several commercial fishers and business leaders predicted dire and wide-reaching consequences. The meeting, held at an auditorium in Belle Chasse, drew about 35 people.
“It’s going to wipe us out,” said John Tesvich, owner of a Plaquemines oyster processing company.
Once the oyster harvesters and shrimpers are gone, many other industries will suffer, Jurisich said.
“It’s going to impact the stores, the restaurants, the processing plants,” he said. “And tourism? Tourism is going to be done.”
NO.diversionfish.adv.014.jpg

Frosty fetches as Acy Cooper, a third generation shrimper and Venice native, gets Ms. Marla Kay ready for the upcoming shrimp season, in Venice, La., Friday, March 19, 2021. Barataria Bay fishers, shrimpers and oyster farmers are concerned the $2 billion Mid-Barataria sediment diversion project will drive them out of business. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)
STAFF PHOTO BY SOPHIA GERMER
To cushion the fishing industry, the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority increased the project's share of mitigation money reserved for fisheries from $33 million last year to $54 million. The CPRA also expanded eligibility for assistance to businesses that buy catches from fishers, and the docks the fishers own.

For oyster growers, the state will expand alternative oyster-growing projects and pay for new and improved public seed grounds, private oyster ground improvements and new breeding reefs.
Shrimpers will be provided support for boat and gear improvements and money for larger boats.
The crabbing industry will have access to money for gear upgrades.
All three industries have been promised a boost in product marketing.
Chauvin shrimper

Shrimper Darrell Domingue looks over his shrimp catch while unloading at a processing plant on Monday, May 30, 2022 in Chauvin, La.
Brad Kemp
But it’s not nearly enough, fishers said. While the Corps is accepting public comment on the diversion, many meeting attendees said they’re done writing letters and turning out at government-led meetings.
“Ten years I’ve been fighting this,” said George Ricks, a charter boat captain and president of the Save Louisiana Coalition, a group that opposes the diversion. “We’ve dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s. We’ve done everything we’re supposed to. But it didn’t work.”
He joined the chorus calling for legal action.
“The only thing left to try is a lawsuit,” Ricks said.
It’s unclear what legal strategy they’ll take. Jurisic and others said they’ll be discussing next steps in the coming days.
The 30-day public comment period on the Corps’ impact statement ends Oct. 24. Corps officials are expected to release an official “record of decision” on three permits the project needs on Dec. 23.
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Me either. Like one guy I once heard say "your ancestors were never able to oyster this far north, they had to travel further south where the water was not as sweet"

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I take issue with this also. It should read "restore a large section of the coast"
 
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· will pole for food
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The oystermen would rather watch the coast erode away than see the MS River do its thing seasonally. They propose band-aid solutions of dredging / building marsh. These projects cost tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars per acre and simply do not work. If you look on google earth, you can see the lands previously built from dredge projects quickly eroding away / subsiding (Bayou Dupont, Lake Judge Perez, Bayou Pierre, Big Branch etc etc). They say the MS River is poison, and while its no alpine spring, just look how productive Venice is! Venice and the various breaks in the MS River bank north of Venice, is building land now at an impressive rate. Let the River do its thing. With the sediment diversion, Barataria will change, but in all, for the better. The flow rates of the diversion will mimic seasonal highs and lows of the MS, meaning great fall fishing. I bet duck hunting will explode as well. Listen to Capt Ryan Lambert talk about it. He's seen what river water can do first hand. I trust him more than Mitch Jurisich and the other oyster cronies.
 

· Zephyr Cove is on FIRE!
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If man quit diverting natural water flow with dams, spillways, dredging, levees etc and let the rivers build the delta the way God meant for them to be we would not be in this predicament. I’m glad no one is bringing up the melting glaciers and rising sea levels bullshit.
 

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An estimated 7 million tons of sediment per year. That is 350,000 18 wheel truck loads. Let er rip !
 
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You can also see how well land has been built in the Atchafalaya/Wax lake deltas
 

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97' Hewes Bayfisher 16' 2022 90 SHO
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@redchaser I have always leaned against diversions simply because of their impact on the fishing. I know it's selfish, but there are massive areas that we don't consider fishing when the diversions are pumping. I am mainly concerned by how the high river season lines up with the trout spawn and shrimp migrations. It pushes the spawning trout offshore where they have a much larger suite of predators and less successful spawn.
After fishing Lake P with three straight years of no spillway, the trout fishing is better than I've seen it since the drought of the early 2000's. The redfish are doing much better as well, and can be found schooling under birds on most calm days between July and January. Its like the good ole days all over again! Compare this back to circa 2015 when we basically wrote the lake off, year round.
Additionally, the Wax Lake is a massive sand flat that is almost not navigable. I know land is land in regards to fighting coastal erosion, but it doesn't seem like healthy habitat to me. And when compared to rebuilt barrier islands, I think I know where you'd rather be fishing...
I'm all for rebuilding the Louisiana marsh, but at what cost to our saltwater species?
Educate me!
 

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@redchaser I have always leaned against diversions simply because of their impact on the fishing. I know it's selfish, but there are massive areas that we don't consider fishing when the diversions are pumping. I am mainly concerned by how the high river season lines up with the trout spawn and shrimp migrations. It pushes the spawning trout offshore where they have a much larger suite of predators and less successful spawn.
After fishing Lake P with three straight years of no spillway, the trout fishing is better than I've seen it since the drought of the early 2000's. The redfish are doing much better as well, and can be found schooling under birds on most calm days between July and January. Its like the good ole days all over again! Compare this back to circa 2015 when we basically wrote the lake off, year round.
Additionally, the Wax Lake is a massive sand flat that is almost not navigable. I know land is land in regards to fighting coastal erosion, but it doesn't seem like healthy habitat to me. And when compared to rebuilt barrier islands, I think I know where you'd rather be fishing...
I'm all for rebuilding the Louisiana marsh, but at what cost to our saltwater species?
Educate me!

I'm fairly clueless, but it seems a lot of current day favorite fishing spots used to be land or marsh, so it only makes sense that there will be some loss of navigable water? Wax Lake seems a long way from the Mississippi. Where is the sand coming from?

Water Ecoregion Map World Terrestrial plant


Water Ecoregion Map World Terrestrial plant
 

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@redchaser I have always leaned against diversions simply because of their impact on the fishing. I know it's selfish, but there are massive areas that we don't consider fishing when the diversions are pumping. I am mainly concerned by how the high river season lines up with the trout spawn and shrimp migrations. It pushes the spawning trout offshore where they have a much larger suite of predators and less successful spawn.
After fishing Lake P with three straight years of no spillway, the trout fishing is better than I've seen it since the drought of the early 2000's. The redfish are doing much better as well, and can be found schooling under birds on most calm days between July and January. Its like the good ole days all over again! Compare this back to circa 2015 when we basically wrote the lake off, year round.
Additionally, the Wax Lake is a massive sand flat that is almost not navigable. I know land is land in regards to fighting coastal erosion, but it doesn't seem like healthy habitat to me. And when compared to rebuilt barrier islands, I think I know where you'd rather be fishing...
I'm all for rebuilding the Louisiana marsh, but at what cost to our saltwater species?
Educate me!
I don't think the diversions will ultimately be at a "cost" to our saltwater species. They may be at a cost to anglers who like to fish certain areas but I think that's short term. Long term the fishing will decline drastically if there is no estuary to provide a nursery for the sports fish or the bait. The diversion will screw up the fishing in some "spots" but the fish will move. I've fished with you Tom, I think you're a good enough angler to find new areas/spots to fish when the diversion is running.
 

· I Love microskiff.com!
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Unbelievable flood events over thousands of years created the estuaries, I think some humans can do without favorite fishing zones in an attempt to slow the loss of remaining marsh.
 

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97' Hewes Bayfisher 16' 2022 90 SHO
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@redchaser I hear what you're saying about the fishing spots getting blown out by diversions. But to say they don't have population level effects on the fish themselves is arguable. I guess we have to wait and see what's in the ecology study that comes out in March. Don't get me wrong, I'll support whatever the CPRA and BTNEP get behind. Having fished Lake Pontchartrain my whole life, it's hard to ignore the way that freshwater from the spillway shuts the whole place down. That and I wanted to introduce some opposing points to this thread. Ron, you know I'll be fishing your spots regardless of where the freshwater is lol
 

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@redchaser I hear what you're saying about the fishing spots getting blown out by diversions. But to say they don't have population level effects on the fish themselves is arguable. I guess we have to wait and see what's in the ecology study that comes out in March. Don't get me wrong, I'll support whatever the CPRA and BTNEP get behind. Having fished Lake Pontchartrain my whole life, it's hard to ignore the way that freshwater from the spillway shuts the whole place down. That and I wanted to introduce some opposing points to this thread. Ron, you know I'll be fishing your spots regardless of where the freshwater is lol
Tom, it’s my understanding, as Tidewater pointed out, that the diversions aren’t going to be an ongoing open faucet of fresh water, but will rather be managed to reflect the seasonal nature of the rivers flows. If you are that averse to fishing areas that are a bit fresh you should scratch Venice off of your list.
 

· will pole for food
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Also HUGE difference in what I believe Hewes is referring to, being the Bonnet Carrie Spillway. The spillway spews out close to 200K cfs during flood events, directly into the lake. The water spends no time in a marsh to have the nitrogen fixed or have the sediment settle. That kind of water is shock to the system no doubt, so I understand your concern. The Barataria sediment diversion will have a max cfs of 75k, which will spread out and be mitigated by hundreds of thousands of marsh acres before it even reaches the Gulf.

It's funny how small of a historical view we have on the coast. In the 70's-90's, saltwater intrusion was a major concern, as the saltwater crept in further north. Large stands of cypress trees around Lake Borge, Ponch and Maurepas died off. Aquatic grasses died off. Many blamed the MRGO. Now, I hear everyone (mostly trout fisherman) complain about a freshwater issue. People got used the saltwater and expected to have consistent trout fishing the same places year after year, even if those places were historically more brackish / fresh.

The MS River or some form of it, as existed for millions of years. Speckled trout, shrimp, dolphin etc have adapted around its seasonal flows for a long time. The MS River built the coast, and I believe its our only hope.
 
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