POINTE A LA HACHE, La.-- In the far flung communities on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish, crabbers are finally reaping the benefits of their harvest.
'It's actually been looking pretty good,' said William Beshel, as he sorted through a box of crabs.
It is quite a change from what Eyewitness News found back in May. A mere two weeks after the BP oil spill, the fishing industry in Pointe a la Hache had ground to a halt.
'How am I going to pay my bills and how am I going to eat?' fisherman Mike Taylor asked at the time.
Now, though, with most waters on the east side of the Mississippi River reopened, some are getting a chance to resume their life's work. In Pointe a la Hache, it is a tale of two towns - and it is very much based on what it is you catch. If you happen to be an oysterman there, the situation remains bleak.
'Nobody can make a living today,' said oysterman Wardell Encalade. 'When we were making 200, 300 sacks a day, we can't even make nothing now.'
When the oil spill threatened coastal marshes, the state Department of Natural Resources opened up several fresh water diversions along the Mississippi River; one was the Caernarvon diversion. It may have helped keep the oil out, but that same fresh water meant to save the marshes, may have killed off scores of oyster beds.
'That's creating a huge challenge for us with our oyster industry,' said Ewell Smith, with the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board. 'We're looking at 40 to 50 to 60 percent of our beds being impacted by fresh water, which could take out 40 to 50 percent of our production over the next two to three years.'
Louisiana is the nation's top producer of oysters. The industry is worth about $300 million a year to the state's economy. Rebuilding all the damaged oyster beds, though, could take years.
'We need all the help we can get to get those beds rebuilt as soon as possible,' Smith said. 'We got from the federal government following Katrina and Rita and Gustav and Ike to rebuild the beds and we were able to do it in three years. We need to be able to do the same thing here.'
In communities like Pointe a la Hache, though, damaged oyster beds may be something they can't afford to wait on.
'We don't know what we're going to do now,' Encalade said.
Some of the oystermen have submitted claims to BP for payment, in order to help make ends meet in the meantime. However, they said the compensation falls short of what they used to make.