SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — The climate crisis is causing concerns for Louisiana’s $230 million crawfish industry as the conditions threaten their survival and may affect crawfish enthusiast’s wallets.
Over 4.4 million Louisiana residents live in extreme drought conditions, and those eagerly anticipating crawfish boils may be in for a ravenous spring as the drought impacts Louisiana’s crawfish industry.
The continuous streak of record-high temperatures and minimal rainfall is disrupting their burrows, food source, and pond salt levels.
“If the burrows cracks, moisture that is inside the burrow is potentially lost, which can affect crawfish survival,” said an Acadia Parish AgCenter Agent, Jeremy Hebert.
LSU AgCenter states in their media release that it is a complex situation affecting 300,000 acres dedicated to crawfish farming in south Louisiana.
Much of Louisiana’s farmed crawfish is raised in rotation with rice. The crawfish’s food source -vegetation and invertebrates – are threatened by the crops’ ability to survive the heat and dry conditions.
“A big concern is forage,” said LSU AgCenter agent for crawfish production, Todd Fontenot, “We want to make certain that our rice comes back, that we have regrowth. That’s our food for our crawfish in the winter.”
Maintaining food for crawfish involves flushing, which introduces another problem: salinity. While rice is somewhat tolerant of saltwater, crawfish – particularly small ones- are more far sensitive.
Fontenot said, that without rain, the salinity issue could become worse. Producers may be unable to flood their crawfish ponds until late September to October.
AgCenter stated all of this comes at a time when rice farmers are increasingly relying on crawfish to help offset skyrocketing costs.
The cost of crawfish production to combat the climate crisis is soaring, along with labor and equipment.
Fontenot is hoping for favorable weather to return soon so producers can have a profitable season.