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 decline in labor income by more than $21 million in 2011-2014.
The damage estimation methodologies developed included both rapid assessment and robust economic models. Application of these models can be used to estimate direct economic losses or damages and total negative economic impacts to the state oyster fishery. There are several areas for improvement, however, that will make these models better tools to evaluate the economic performance of the state oyster fishery. In order to increase the efficiency of the models, additional long-term monthly variables are useful to the model such as water quality, restoration efforts, oyster relaying, and cultch planting. It is anticipated that these adjustments in the models will improve their predictive and explanatory properties.
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 depend 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.
**Posadas, Benedict C. 2017. Economic Impacts of the Opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway to the Mississippi Oyster Fishery. Mississippi State University Extension Service publication 3038 and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant publication MASGP-11-041. Mississippi State, Mississippi.
**Posadas, Benedict C. 2017. Economic Impacts of the Opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway to the Mississippi Oyster Fishery. Journal of Food Distribution Research. 48(1): 42-45.