Mississippi announces USD 6.6 million in relief for 2019 Bonnet Carré Spillway disaster

A photo of shrimping vessels in Mississippi.

The U.S. state of Mississippi is set to dole out USD 6.6 million (EUR 6.2 million) in financial relief to commercial fishermen, seafood dealers, aquaculture harvesters, and live-bait fisheries impacted by the 2019 Mississippi Bonnet Carré Spillway disaster.

The spillway diverts floodwater away from populated areas and into the Mississippi sound, but the surge of freshwater can be damaging to ocean life. Officials believe the fresh-water release severely damaged commercial fisheries when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway twice in 2019, leading to millions of dollars in lost revenue from lower oyster, shrimp, crab, and finfish landings.

The U.S. Department of Commerce declared the incidents a disaster in 2020, allocating USD 88 million (EUR 80.6 million) in funding to Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Mississippi was awarded USD 21 million (EUR 19 million). 

In August 2023, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources opened applications for financial relief through the 2019 Mississippi Bonnet Carré Spillway Fisheries Disaster Recovery Program. Now the department is prepared to issue USD 6.6 million (EUR 6.2 million) in relief to 416 eligible individuals.

Most of the funding will go to commercial fishermen, with oyster license holders receiving a base payout of USD 15,000 (EUR 14,000) and other license holders receiving a base payout of USD 7,500 (EUR 7,000). Eighty-five individuals reported losses exceeding those based payments and will receive up to USD 108,599 (EUR 102,118) each.

Twenty-nine individuals who had no recorded landings in the four years prior to 2019 will have their 2019 license fees reimbursed.

The department also plans to issue USD 12,718 (EUR 11,959) to 31 seafood dealers, USD 18,775 (EUR 17,652) to seven oyster aquaculture harvesters, and USD 18,775 (EUR 17,652) to seven individuals operating in live-bait fisheries.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Terry Kelly


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