Fishermen make passionate call against river diversion plan

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 17, 2013 at 10:45 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 17 at 11:01 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

CHALMETTE, La. -- Emotions ran high Monday night at a meeting in St. Bernard Parish about coastal restoration.

The plan to divert the Mississippi River into wetlands has sparked an uproar, with some in the fisheries industry saying it'll kill their livelihood.

“This area is about fishing, whether you’re a commercial fisherman or you’re a charter fisherman like myself, and we depend on the marsh for our livelihood.”

It’s a 50-year plan expected to cost $50 billion, all in the name of restoring the state’s disappearing coast line.

Monday night, it came under fire.

“I don’t want it. Nobody wants it,” said Robert Campo, a St. Bernard Parish resident. “Hey, let me tell you something. This government was built for the people by the people. When the hell did that go out the damn window?”

Last year state lawmakers gave the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority the greenlight to divert water from the Mississippi River and dredge sediment to create new wetlands, eroded by decades of storms.

“We should have a dredge working 24/7 out here,” said John Tesvich, of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force. “We should have five dredges working 24/7 out there.”

Hundreds showed up to the St. Bernard Parish Council Chambers to face off against Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority officials, claiming that the larger river diversions will destroy wildlife and the fishing industry.

“It’ll be like the Mississippi River, just in the shallow water. And it’s not the Mississippi River fresh water, it’s Mississippi River ship water,” said George Barisich of the United Commercial Fisherman’s Association. “It’s got all the stuff that makes the dead zone in the Gulf, as it drops off, it’s going to be on the inside. There’s going to be a dead zone on the inside and a dead zone on the outside.”

Many said they’d rather see more dredging than river diversion. However, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority maintains it’s the best plan in restoring and protecting the state’s disappearing coast line.

But for those who work and play on the water, it’s a wait-and-see scenario.

 

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