Some area fishermen asking Gov. Edwards to stop Mid-Barataria Diversion Project

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:16 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Some Southeast Louisiana fishermen are appealing to Governor John Bel Edwards to step in and stop the Mid-Barataria Diversion Project.

In the push to save Louisiana’s eroding coastline, one of the most significant diversion projects ever announced appears to be moving forward in Plaquemines Parish, much to the chagrin of many fishermen.

“The diversion process is going to put everything closer inland and kill everything,” said Oysterman Brian Winkler.

With its influx of freshwater, Winkler believes the diversion project will kill thousands of acres of productive oyster grounds.

This week, a task force addressing concerns about the project met in Belle Chasse, where opposition remains strong.

“We’re fighting for a livelihood and they’re washing it away,” said task force member Mitch Jurisich.

Barataria Bay fishermen say the billion-dollar project will have limited impact on building land.

“This project won’t save the coast, if it works it’ll create 20 mi.² in 50 years,” said charter boat Capt. George Ricks.

The opposition flies in the face of efforts by the coastal protection authority and its goal to restore depleted wetlands.

“The projects are based in science, and it’s not brain surgery to figure out you have to reconnect the river to the marsh, to have a buffer zone for south Louisiana,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

Those opposed to the diversion believe their complaints are falling on deaf ears and they are looking at ways to amp up the pressure, through protests and possible lawsuits

“The only thing we have left to do now is litigation,” said Ricks.

Many fishermen say instead of a diversion, sediment should be pulled from the river and pumped or deposited directly into damaged wetlands.

For now, the public is still giving feedback on a diversion project that could be approved by the end of this year.

The proposed Mid-Barataria Diversion Project has already caused some oystermen to quit tending their beds. They say they are not worth the investment, as long as the diversion project remains on the table.

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