September 9, 2005

La. fishing sector losses seen up to $1.1 billion

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Reuters) - Louisiana vital fishing
industry could lose up to $1.1 billion in retail sales over the
next year due to damage from Hurricane Katrina, in what state
officials said on Friday could be the biggest hit ever to the

The state is the second largest producer of seafood in the
United States after Alaska.

"That would number would represent a 40 percent loss to the
total value of the state's commercial and recreational retail
harvest based on 2003 sales levels of $2.85 billion," John
Roussel, assistant secretary for Louisiana's fisheries
department, told a news conference.

Revenue losses to the state's mainstay shrimp industry
could be as much as $539 million and $150 million for the
oyster industry, Roussel added.

"These projections are subject to adjustment as air and
water surveys are made over the next several months," he said.

Roussel said it was difficult to estimate losses right now
to fishing infrastructure, including boats, docks, ice plants
and processing facilities, due to the storm.