• Climate in the Gulf
• The Report
• For Teachers
• Slow the Change
• Speed our Response
• Water Resources
• Sea-Level Change
• Human Perspectives
Louisiana enjoys a lucrative fishing and seafood industry. The state's aquaculture industry, which produces food fish, baitfish, crawfish, and oysters, is ranked seventh in the nation. Marine fisheries depend heavily on open sea and coastal waters, as well as on wetlands, that shrimp, crabs, and oysters all use as habitat for some part of their life cycle. Some of the possible impacts of climate change on Louisiana's fisheries include:
- Accelerated rates of sea-level rise as well as reduced rainfall in coastal areas will increase the risk of permanent or occasional saltwater intrusion into crawfish ponds, drastically affecting production in coastal Louisiana, the crawfish capital of the world.
- Increased runoff from the Mississippi River, a change projected by some climate models, will increase the risk of the formation of a larger hypoxic zone (an oxygen-poor area sometimes called a "dead zone") off the coast. This would negatively impact the state's fisheries, decreasing yields of shrimp and other catches.
- Decreased precipitation will lead to a decrease in freshwater input from local rivers flowing into estuaries, bays, and lagoons. In addition, demand on scarce freshwater resources will increase. The combination is likely to result in problems with extreme salt concentrations, less nutrient input, less frequent flushing, and thus overall lower water quality in nearshore waters.
- Where the salt tolerance of species in marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds may be exceeded, changes in the food web and possible reduction in fish and shellfish productivity must be expected.
- If wetlands can migrate inland as sea level continues to rise, the yield of estuarine-dependent fisheries, such as shrimp, will increase or decrease depending on the size and quality of the new habitat over time.
Brown Pelican - South Florida Water Management District.
Crawfish - University of Louisiana at Lafayette, C. Anzalone.
• Apalachicola Bay
• Big Thicket
• Laguna Madre
• Mississippi Delta