Galveston seafood industry impacted by Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike has severely hurt the Gulf seafood industry. I didn’t know this, but 60% of the oysters sold in the Eastern part of the US come from Texas and Louisiana. The hurricane destroyed hundreds of oyster reefs. Some say it may take as long as two years for the industry to recover. I can’t imagine what some of the harvesters are going through right now.
Galveston Bay fishermen haul about 9 million pounds of Gulf shrimp and 3 million pounds of oysters each year, Mr. Robinson said. About 60 percent of oysters sold in the eastern U.S. come from Texas and Louisiana, the bulk coming from Galveston Bay.
Louisiana landed more than 499,000 tons of fish worth $278 million last year, and Texas landed nearly 42,500 tons worth $174.3 million.
Early estimates indicate Louisiana's $2.6 billion seafood industry sustained up to $300 million in economic losses because of Gustav and Ike.
Ike killed hundreds of acres of oyster reefs with waves of shocking saltwater, and suffocated others with grass clawed from Bolivar Peninsula and washed into the Gulf.
Lisa Halili's Prestige Oysters is among at least three in the Galveston Bay front community of San Leon. Halili says recovering from Ike "is going to be the biggest challenge the seafood industry in Texas ever had to deal with."
Some fear it'll take as long as two years for the industry to recover.
"Certainly it's a disruption," said Lance Robinson, a coastal fisheries director with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife. "For others it's devastating."
Most fisherman make between $100 and $150 a day working in the marinas in San Leon, with hundreds of migrants with work visas arriving between the peak harvesting months of October and April. The trailers where they lived, and their jobs, are gone.