NEW ORLEANS -- Several parish presidents came together Tuesday to stress the importance of the health of the Gulf Coast to the state's economy.
It's all because of a new report that sets out to find just how much money and how many jobs wildlife tourism provides in Louisiana.
The 55-page report is titled “Wildlife Tourism and the Gulf Coast Economy.” It was funded by the Environmental Defense Fund.
The study draws a direct connection between the health of the ecosystem and the economic health of the Gulf region by laying out some very concrete evidence that a healthy Gulf Coast is a huge moneymaker for the the five Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana.
Wildlife tourism includes recreational fishing, hunting and wildlife watching. It's an industry that generates $19 billion each year, and tourism as a whole generates over 2 million jobs in the region.
This report comes more than three years after the BP oil spill and as officials finalize a restoration plan for the gulf.
“We have the number one fishery on North America. If you come to Louisiana, it is unlike any other state. The water is alive with fish. Everywhere you look there's bird and animals living in our marshes," said Cpt. Ryan Lambert, president of Cajun Fishing Adventures. "But I’ve watched it decline."
“It would be like not taking care of the Superdome or the French Quarter. We need to take care of our coastal wetlands so that we can preserve the benefits that it provides, but it's also the right thing to do. It's right for the wildlife and it's right for future generations that are going to experience Louisiana,” said Mark Romig, president of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne said the point is to have actual data to show lawmakers just how important wildlife tourism is to the Gulf Coast.