July 24, 2019
I would like to provide estimates of the potential direct losses on the Mississippi commercial shrimp fishery associated with the prolonged and twice opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway since February 2019. The commercial fishery impacts consist of losses of wild shrimp harvests by commercial Mississippi shrimpers due to the protracted freshwater intrusion. One approach to estimate the direct losses of this man-made disaster is by comparing the 2019 and later years’ landings and dockside values to previous years benchmarks.
There are no monthly data on commercial dockside values for shrimp published by NOAA Fisheries for 2017, 2018, and 2019. The percent losses are reports by MS Department of Marine Resources. Those percentages are indicators of what we have lost so far since it was opened on Feb. 27 to Mar. 30, 2019 and again on May 9 to Jul 4, 2019. The chart below tells us what we know about the dockside values of the commercial shrimp fishery based on the availability of data. During the next five to ten years when all the monthly data on commercial fishery landing values become available, the final losses will be computed. For now, we can estimate that the potential direct loss is equal to base value times percent loss.
COMMERCIAL FISHERY IMPACTS
The commercial shrimp fishery impacts consist of losses of wild shrimp harvests by commercial Mississippi shrimpers due to the prolonged freshwater intrusion. Preliminary state reports indicate that commercial shrimp landings in May, June and July 2019 declined by 19, 58, and 60 percent as compared to the previous five-year average, respectively. Mississippi typically lands minimal shrimp harvests from February to April.
The chart above shows the monthly CUMULATIVE dockside values of shrimp landings in Mississippi in two recent periods. With the 2014-16 averages as benchmarks, the cumulative dockside values start at $833,000 in March and end at $14,305,000 in December. The average dockside values during the 2012-16 benchmark period start at $800,000 in March and end at $17,766,000 in December.
SEAFOOD PROCESSING IMPACTS
The estimates of direct losses described above cover only shrimp harvesting. There are other significant post-harvest economic activities. Shrimp processing is a major economic activity in the state. There are also significant wholesale and retail activities of shrimp products performed by local seafood dealers and restaurants. The decline in shrimp landings will adversely affect the processing and distribution activities of these seafood establishments. Inclusion of the direct losses to post-harvest economic activities is necessary for the estimation of the economic impacts of the man-made disaster.
TOTAL ECONOMIC IMPACTS
Finally, economic impacts include direct, indirect, and induced effects. The direct losses represent the direct impact of the commercial fisheries affected by the prolonged freshwater intrusion. There are also backward and forward interactions of the commercial harvesting sector with other economic sectors.
The entire shrimp industry created a total of $215 million economic contribution to the state of Mississippi in 2015. This estimate includes shrimp harvesting, processing, wholesaling and retailers of wild shrimp and other shrimp products. The industry also generated a total of more than 4,200 jobs in the state economy.