Back to Top

Louisiana Coastal Communication

Coastal Loss?  Why the Concern?

Louisiana has vegetated marsh being converted to open water at the rate of about 10.3 square miles per year. In the past, it has been as high as 50 square miles per year.

This means that Louisiana is not only losing its coastline, but it is losing the plants that supply the organic material that supports the northern Gulf of Mexico commercial fisheries - representing 40% of the total fisheries of the continental United States.

Obviously, this is an economic issue, not only for Louisiana (whose coastal economy is largely connected to fisheries), but for the nation. As an example, virtually all Chesapeake blue crabs now hail from coastal Louisiana (Chesapeake has a depleted crab industry). Another is that most chicken and catfish eaten in the United States are grown on fish meal from the Louisiana menhaden (pogy) fishery.

Locally speaking, the most powerful element in the economy is tourism. People love to visit coastal Louisiana because of the wonderful cuisine (mostly seafood) and joie de vivre of the inhabitants.

Coastal loss is also a huge cultural issue in Louisiana. Coastal populations basically define themselves on the basis of their direct and indirect relationship with coastal wetlands. In fact, the population of coastal Louisiana is often called the “Gumbo Culture.” Gumbo is a wonderful dish that we enjoy that is basically a mixture of certain foods and seasoning that are cooked slowly while the seasons marry. In coastal Louisiana, our people are from a variety of heritages: Cajun, French, Native American, Spanish, German, Isleño, Filipino, African, Vietnamese, Croatian, and more. As we have shared in the wealth of coastal Louisiana, our cultures have “married”- thus the Gumbo Culture.

For a thorough discussion of coastal issues, visit the America's WETLAND Resource Center.

Additional excellent information is available at the following web sites: