Gulf state US reps back fisheries disaster request

NEW ORLEANS — U.S. House members from three Gulf Coast states are backing their governors' request for a fisheries disaster declaration, saying freshwater flooding into saltwater ecosystems has killed oysters and hurt the fishing industry.

The letter released Wednesday asks Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for the disaster declaration sought by the governors of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. A news release says seafood and recreational fisheries have been harmed by a deluge of freshwater from a spillway west of New Orleans, diluting normally brackish and salty waters.

The letter sent Monday was signed by four U.S. representatives from Louisiana and one each from Mississippi and Alabama.

Ross can declare a fisheries disaster, making federal aid available and opening the way for Congress to appropriate money to help fishermen and businesses that rely on them.

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