Wicker, Palazzo express support for federal fisheries disaster request

Last week, Governor Phil Bryant submitted a federal fisheries disaster request as a result of the opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. Senator Roger Wicker and Congressman Steven Palazzo have sent a follow up to Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross in support of the Governor’s request.

The opening of the spillway has allowed the introduction of freshwater into the Mississippi Sound, which has had a negative impact on marine life, including oysters, crabs, and shrimp.

Related: Marine concerns prompt federal fisheries disaster request

The lawmakers expressed their concern as the spillway remains open, stating that the influx of additional freshwater into the Mississippi Sound from flooded regions upriver is devastating coastal ecosystems, which will result in losses to the Gulf Coast’s seafood, sport fishing, and tourism industries.

“Given this situation, we agree with Governor Phil Bryant that the Department of Commerce should assist these stressed Mississippi interests,” Wicker and Palazzo wrote. “Declaring a federal fisheries disaster will help negatively impacted ecosystems and coastal communities begin recovery efforts.”

During a recent meeting on the Coast, Joe Spraggins, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, also attributed 84 dolphin and 126 sea turtle deaths to the introduction of the freshwater.