It's been three years since the BP Gulf Oil Spill. On Tuesday, Governor Bobby Jindal announced BP agreed to fund $340 million in restoration projects for Louisiana. The investment is a big part of the $1 billion BP agreed to invest as part of Jindal's Louisiana Plan.
The money will go towards funding restoration of four barrier islands and two Fish Stock Research and Enhancement Centers. Three of the four barrier islands include Cheniere Ronquille Component, Shell Island Component and Breton Island Component in Plaquemines Parish. The final barrier island is Caillou Lake Healands Component, also know as Whiskey Island, in Terrebonne Parish.
Michel H. Claudet, Terrebonne Parish President said, "We are appreciative of the funding that is coming to Louisiana, and we are also appreciative of the fact that we can begin refurbishment of Whiskey Island."
Claudet explained that restoring the coast, elevate structure and building levees is of great importance, but restoring the barrier island is the top priority, as it is the resident's first line of defense against natural disasters.
The two new research and enhancement centers will be established in Lake Charles and Point a La Hache in Plaquemines Parish.
In a press release from the Office of the Governor, Jindal said, "Louisiana has one of the most productive fisheries in the nation. We produce more commercial seafood than any state. That's why it's critical for us to invest in and protect our fisheries."
The facilities are the first of their kind in Louisiana and will help improve the management of fisheries for Louisiana anglers as well as help to inform fishery managers on reproduction and population health of baitfish. Most importantly, the centers will aid in re-stocking fish species, which will help boost the coastal economy.
CEO of Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, David Cresson said, "These two facilities will have research components but they will also have the capabilities of re-stocking our waters with fish species that may have received some damage."
Cresson said the CCAL has had a seat at the table in this particular project for almost three years.
"We helped in the development the original project," he began. "We also went around the country talking to the world's foremost experts in stock enhance in developing the latest proposal for the project."
The facilities will be operational in two and a half to three years and will combine world class science with local man-power to create state of the art facilities. Cresson expressed excitement in moving forward with restoration, and said the sooner fish species are re-stocked, the better the outlook will be for the coastal economy.
"We still don't know the long-term effects of the oil spill, but we don't want to wake up in five to ten years and realize half the fish population is gone. These centers will help to prevent that."
While excited about the new centers, Cresson said BP still has a lot of promises to fulfill.
"We need to continue to push them to make it right. We are not fully recovered from this. We are not nearly where we were three and half years ago. So, there is still a lot of work to be done."