Economic Impacts of Bonnet Carre Spillway Openings to Mississippi Marine Sectors

Bonnet Carre Spillway openings in 2019 

The Mississippi marine sectors were threatened by the lingering impacts of the man-made disaster associated with the prolonged and twice opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway from February to April and May to July 2019. The commercial fishery impacts consist of direct losses of wild harvests by commercial Mississippi fishermen due to the protracted freshwater intrusions. The direct impacts on marine-related businesses consist of direct losses of gross sales by businesses adversely affected by the man-made disaster.  

One approach to estimate the direct losses of this man-made disaster is by comparing the 2019 and future landings, dockside values, or gross sales to previous years' benchmarks. The direct losses to the marine economic sectors take some time to compute, but preliminary estimates can be projected, and benchmark values during the past five years are compiled. The direct losses are measured by the differences between the benchmark landings, dockside values or gross sales and the 2019 and future landings. 

Bonnet Carre Spillway opening in 2011 

The Mississippi oyster industry underwent severe economic hardships due to the massive destruction and frequent closures of the state public reefs associated with natural and technological disasters since 2005. The absence of access to public reefs caused the shutdown of oyster harvesting activities and associated processing and distribution activities. The direct losses in oyster harvesting associated with the prolonged Bonnet Carre Spillway opening in 2011 ranged from 80% to 100% of the baseline average commercial annual landings in 2002-2004. The cumulative values of commercial oyster landings lost in 2011-2014 reached up to $46.0 million. Negative economic impacts of the prolonged BCS opening consisted of the reduction in economic output by $58 million, between 145 to 324 jobs lost per year and a decline in labor income by more than $21 million in 2011-2014.

The federal disaster assistance and oil spill restore funds allocated to the restoration of the state public oyster reefs are massive. However, the post-disaster economic recovery of the state’s oyster fishery depends on the immediate and timely implementation of appropriate restoration efforts and disaster assistance to oystermen.  The long-term economic recovery of the oyster fishery requires the immediate implementation of the recommendations, projects, and programs outlined by the Governor’s Oyster Restoration and Resiliency Council. 

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