After Hurricane Harvey, the fishing industry was devastated by the damage caused to marine ecosystems. Fishermen reported their struggles as they used what little equipment they had left to harvest what managed to survive Harvey.
Recovery Begins in Some Industries
The National Fisherman is reporting that Gulf oyster beds are still recovering over one year after Hurricane Harvey. As Harvey approached in August of 2017, local fisherman feared that their livelihoods would be devastated by the massive storm.
Efforts throughout the Gulf are attempting to restore sustainable oyster crops. Prestige Oysters dropped more about 20,000 pounds of limestone to help repair oyster beds in their fishing area. In Mississippi, officials from the Mississippi Commercial Fishers United are hopeful that an oyster shell recycling program will help their crop. In this program, recycled shells are left in the sun to cure. Once they are ready, they are filled with oyster spat (larvae attached to a solid surface) and placed in areas with damaged reefs.
These efforts have seen the oyster industry in the Gulf Coast region remain healthy—however, business is still not booming. Oyster demand has stayed the same, but the post-Harvey industry is just barely able to fulfill demand.
Raz Halili of Prestige Oysters commented, “We’ll keep trucking along. We’re healthy right now, but business should be really good in 2 to 3 years, pending any crazy weather.”
Much like the rest of the residents and businesses that suffered damages from the violent waters of Harvey, the Gulf Coast oyster industry is remaining vigilant. With years of fishing history rooted in the Gulf Coast, fishermen are letting everyone know that they are here to stay.