The environmental effects of the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill are bound to be widespread. Environmental agencies and interest groups are already mobilizing to try and contain the oil as best as possible.
In a best-case-scenario, they will be able to keep the oil off the coastline and contained in the gulf. However, it is much more likely that the spread will continue. And, in a worst-case-scenario, will begin to spread up the eastern coastline.
Despite the broad implications that are inevitable, the area most damaged will be Louisiana. Many of Louisiana’s biggest industries are already feeling the hurt from this spill (at the time of writing a month old), and will only get worse as time goes on.
This article is going to explore which industries are most at risk.
Industries at Risk
Shrimpers: Shrimping has been a Louisiana mainstay since before the 1800s. They have a long and well established tradition. Unfortunately, one of the first industries to hit panic was the shrimping industry. They realized the fragility of the eco-system surrounding their cash crop and understood that oil would be devastating. This fact was so widely recognized that the state declared an emergency shrimping season a few days after the spill, knowing that all of the shrimpers would need to gather something to sustain themselves in the coming months and maybe even years.
Oyster Farmers: Approximately 4,800 jobs in Louisiana are based around oyster farming, and now they are all in jeopardy. Just like shrimping, oyster farming is done largely through mariculture, which means farming via the sea.
Other Fishing Ventures: With the ocean being so plentiful and so close, LA has come to rely heavily on all fishing industries. This includes other less well known ventures.
Louisiana Tourism Industries: The tourism industry is a vast network of travel agencies, booking networks, hotels, tour guides, and more. Each piece of that elaborate chain will begin to suffer as more and more people avoid the oil-ridden waters off the coast of Louisiana. This will even affect nearby cities if fumes begin to leak past coastlines.
Beach Front Properties and Real Estate: Not only is the property value of LA coastline real estate in short term trouble, the entire real estate industry will have to shift and evolve depending on how long clean up takes and how deeply rooted the environmental affects are bound to be from the spill.
Boat Operators: There are many reasons to own and operate a boat in Louisiana, be it for tours, guiding, fishing, or recreation. All of those owners will have to carefully monitor the damage their vessels receive and cut down on where and when they can actually go out onto the water.
Oil Industry Workers: It might be easy to think of oil industry workers as “the enemy” right now, but they are just people trying to make an honest living. The severe backlash from this incident is likely going to endanger many of the oil initiatives around LA and potentially lessen jobs available.
Restaurateurs: Many restaurants in Louisiana are seafood based. They have long relied on the nearby resources of fish to keep their stock fresh and delicious. Not only are the restaurant owners going to suffer from a lack of stock and increased prices for importing, but also all the individuals working at those restaurants and the people who work the fish “pipeline” that keep the supply meeting the demand.
As you might imagine, the industries described here are not an exhaustive list of everyone that will be affected. Only time will reveal how many individuals and industries will have to shift dramatically in order to survive (and how many won’t survive at all).