Gulf seafood industry crippled by Ike's damage

Natural Disasters Posted on

On the eve of October's peak seafood harvesting season, migrant fishermen are sweeping debris from gutted bay side homes instead of scooping shrimp and oysters from the Gulf of Mexico's lucrative floor. The $100 million fishing industry in Galveston Bay is virtually paralyzed.

Hurricane Ike's impact is being felt among Gulf seafood harvesters, distributors and restaurants. Government and industry officials fear it will take as long as two years for the processing plants, boats and docks along the bay to recover and rebuild.

"It's like a bomb went off," said Lisa Halili, owner of Prestige Oysters Inc., which is among the largest seafood harvesters in Texas and Louisiana.

Hurricanes Ike and Gustav hit the region's fishermen hard, causing the industry to lose an estimated $300 million in Louisiana alone. The storms scattered debris in waterways and bays, broke docks and smashed boats. They killed hundreds of acres of oyster reefs with waves of shocking saltwater, and suffocated others with grass clawed from the shore and washed into the Gulf.

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