DELCAMBRE, La. (KLFY) — The Port of Delcambre will soon put two million dollars to work through the federal Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Port Infrastructure Development Program. While Bayou Carlin is a great place fishermen can sell directly to the public, it’s not without its flaws. Sunken shrimp boats litter the docks, debris rests in the channel, and hurricanes have damaged the structure.
Port of Delcambre Director Wendell Verret admits the local seafood industry has been in decline for many years. “We’re just hanging on by our fingernails really to be honest,” Verret told News 10.
Storms, the economy, even marine biology can all be obstacles to the Louisiana fisherman. Though those things are outside of the industry’s control, the infrastructure is.
A two million dollar grant just awarded from the U.S. Department of Transportation could turn things around. Half will be an investment in expanding a major port business. The other half will include dock refurbishment, debris removal, the construction of several small buildings, and even some dredging.
Senator Bill. Cassidy of Louisiana announced the grant. In a statement, he said, “Investing in our ports improves supply chains and connects Louisiana with the globe. This type of investment is crucial to our state, and we will see many more like it with the bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
The funds will combine with a previous award by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to expand port facilities, bringing the project funding to a total of $6 million. The projects will bring 450 jobs to Iberia and Vermilion Parish once construction is complete.
Verret is optimistic that some improvements can be the rising tide that lifts all ships.
“We have to have the fisherman to bring in the seafood, and if they don’t have the ability to do that, we can’t promote our seafood, we can’t put it out there,” Verret expressed. “We have about 10 operating boats right now that are bringing in fish/shrimp to sell to the public, and we could have 30, 40 boats easily with this addition.”
This is the first year small dock were able to receive this type of grant because the minimum for dock improvement used to be $10M which required a match. In 2021, 11 ports in 10 states were awarded smaller projects ranging from one-and-a-half to four million dollars.
“It was just perfect for us,” Verret said. “Hopefully, we will have the benefits from this project, and we can’t wait to get started.”
According to Verret, millions of pounds of shrimp are processed in Delcambre each year and sent nationwide, but that still can’t satiate even Louisiana’s appetite, so more space locally is a win-win for everybody.