Gulf Coast seafood biz slammed by freshwater from floods

In this July 24, 2014 file photo, mounds of crumbled concrete and shucked oyster shells intended to be submerged to help rebuild oyster reefs sit along the roadside in Hopedale, La. Floodwaters carried down from the Midwest are killing oysters and driving crabs, shrimp and finfish out of Louisiana and Mississippi bays and marshes to saltier waters. | Photo Source: AP Photo / Stacey Plaisance
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (AP) - Freshwater from Midwestern floods has killed oysters along the coasts of three states and cost Mississippi half of its blue crabs.

Joe Spraggins, the head of Mississippi's Department of Marine Resources, said water that came through a Louisiana spillway killed 95 percent of the oysters in his part of the Mississippi Sound and fed toxic algae blooms.

Spraggins said seafood and tourism businesses have lost $120 million to $140 million.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and the governors of Mississippi and Alabama asked months ago for U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to declare a fisheries disaster.

That designation would allow federal grants to those whose livelihoods were affected.

Alabama canceled its oyster season.

A Louisiana fisheries official said it will be months before he has all the figures needed to say which fisheries qualify.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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