FLOODWATCH: Corps abandons ban on commercial fishing

Deidre Cruse

In a conference call Sunday, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers assured local officials there would be no ban on commercial fishing in the Atchafalaya Basin unless the levee system is threatened, Iberville Parish Councilman Louis “Pete” Kelley Jr. reported Monday.

The proposed two-week closure would have hurt the local economy and cause fishermen to lose their crawfish traps, said Kelley, a commercial fisherman who lives in Bayou Sorrel.

The councilman said he got word late Friday afternoon that the Corps planned to shut down commercial fishing for two weeks starting Wednesday (May 11), and got further confirmation on Saturday.

Kelley said he held a meeting at his house Sunday with Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. state Rep. Karen St. Germain, Parish Councilman Matthew H. Jewell of Maringouin and other officials that ultimately resulted in a conference call with the Corps.

“The Corps said there will be no shutting down the basin for commercial fishing,” Kelley said.

“If the water comes up high, and it's going to affect the community, I agree they need to shut it down. The water is not even on the boat landing,” he said, adding he did not believe the water would threaten the Atchafalaya levee system. “...If it threatens the levees, then it's time to stop. We'll understand that.”

In the long run, the high water will flush out the Basin and improve both commercial and sport fishing there, Kelley said.

“I don't wish no flooding [sic] on anybody, but at the end of the day, it's going to flush the basin out,” he said. “The water quality is really bad right now...We don't really need this kind of water, but it's out of our control.”