Southeast La. crab industry slow to return after Isaac

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KMOV.com

Posted on September 17, 2012 at 5:10 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 17 at 7:26 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- The lingering effects of Hurricane Isaac leave the local supply of crab meat somewhat scarce.

That means it may be hard to get at your favorite restaurant or seafood store.

Impacts from the storm are putting a damper on what would normally be peak season for crabs in south Louisiana.

"We are seeing enough crabs finally at the end of last week to where we're getting into a routine of processing, but nowhere near like we should be doing," said Gary Bauer, owner of Pontchartrain Blue Crab in Slidell. "We put our place back together. We brought back our equipment. We repaired most of the damages. We still got to cart off some trailers that got flooded."

Bauer said the real problem is a shortage of fishermen on the water.

"They lost a lot of traps. They they lost a lot of equipment and a few people even lost their boats."

Fisherman Pete Gerica said the 200 traps he has left in Lake Pontchartain and Lake Borne have not been very productive since the storm.

"One box of crabs ain't nothing for your time and your effort," said Gerica. "You ain't going to cover your fuel with that."

Complicating matters for local crabbers, nearly three weeks after Isaac there are still some dead zones in and around the lake caused by all that debris that washed in with the storm.

"The problem we got right now is stuff you see in the yard here, this grass and stuff is in some spots and a trap that don't sit in the bottom it don't catch crabs," said Gerica.

"It really put a lot of material into the lake, sawgrass material and hay," said Bauer. "As it decomposes in the water, it sucks the oxygen out of the water."

They hope tidal action will continue to flush out the bad water and bring back the crabs and the fishermen before the end of the season.

"It's fishing," said Gerica. "Just like gambling. You put your money up. You try to make the best of it. Some times it works, some times it don't."

Experts says right now the local crabbing industry is only operating at about 60 to 70 percent of capacity.

 

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