Comprehensive plan to assist local fisheriesNov 14th, 2011 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: News
Recognizing that local fisheries are a vital part of the region, the state, and the nation and that every effort should be made to preserve the economic vitality and cultural heritage of fishing communities in southern Louisiana, St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF) has been working for the past year to develop additional business opportunities for fishers in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In the fall of 2010 the SBEDF secured an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant in the amount of $200,000, with an in-kind match by SBEDF of $50,000, for the purpose of developing a strategic workforce contingency plan for fishing and related industries severely impacted by the BP disaster.
The SBEDF recently unveiled its comprehensive plan to provide a future vision for the fishing industry in St. Bernard, Plaquemines and Orleans Parishes. The Report, Strategic Workforce Contingency Plan for Fishing and Related Industries in Coastal Louisiana, is the result of a year-long effort coordinated between local fishermen, the SBEDF, and Louisiana based, DADCO Consulting. The DADCO Report and Strategic Action Plan is designed to look beyond the immediate economic horizon and to identify a game plan for accessing new market opportunities in seafood and related industries.
“The focus of the Fisheries Project was to keep fishermen employed on the water or as close to the water’s edge as possible, despite the fact that long-term ecological impacts of the BP event may not be known for years to come,” Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of the SBEDF said.
The DADCO Report focuses three major strategic recommendations:
1.) Increasing seafood competitiveness, providing higher value-added opportunities, and diversifying the catch of the fisheries/seafood industry in the affected area;
2.) Identifying and developing employment and business opportunities in eco-experiential tourism; and
3.) Identifying and developing employment and business opportunities related to coastal restoration and preservation, including development and commercialization of new technologies.
“The plan developed as a result of this project will enable the region to plan and coordinate resources to support the economic recovery of communities impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” said David Dodd, President and CEO of DADCO Consulting. The plan addresses programmatic development to leverage the knowledge and skills of the affected population into other prominent regional sectors and economic opportunities. The Project methodology included analysis of existing skills and intellectual property possessed by those employed in the fishing industry, and research as to other sectors where their skills may be transferable. In addition, the DADCO Report identifies additional training that may be necessary to increase competitiveness and profitability of impacted companies. Local Fishermen provided invaluable leadership and input to the DADCO Report.
Fisheries are a key economic driver in the region. Furthermore, “we have learned that even with our land-loss challenges, the Mississippi Delta remains the most ecologically pristine river delta on the globe, and a myriad of untapped opportunity exists” stated Martin. The DADCO Report expands upon each of these three strategic recommendations and details action points to implementation, creating a more diverse, trained, and sustainable industry for the fisheries and related industry.
“Although led by the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation, the DADCO Report included Plaquemines and Orleans Parishes in the research, and will provide benefit to other coastal communities in southeast Louisiana,” said Barbara Johnson of the Johnson Group, the Project’s co-manager.
“When you take into account the scope of the study, and then examine the details and the plans of action that they’ve fine-tuned, it is really an outstanding piece of work,” said Stephen Reuther, CEO of the St. Bernard Chamber. “St. Bernard Parish finally has a fisheries workforce study with some teeth. If we can keep everyone involved motivated and accountable, this can be the blueprint for rebuilding our fisheries workforce while expanding our opportunities for growth and economic development.”
The initiatives and information presented in the DADCO Report will aid the region in moving beyond the short-term impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Event, and create an action-oriented roadmap for the future. This series of action agendas will allow them the capability to diversify their economies, and increase their capacity to build wealth in their communities.
“We are extremely grateful for the expertise provided by our local fishing community; our economic, tourism, and workforce development partners in each of three parishes; Nunez Community College; and St. Bernard Parish Government officials for encouraging this worthwhile effort,” said Martin.