The short-term gross revenue loss to the fishing industry from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could be $115 million to $172 million, according to a study released Friday.
The study was commissioned by regional economic development agency, Greater New Orleans Inc. and conducted by consulting firm IEM and Headwater Capital Consulting.
The study focused exclusively on the short-term economic impact of the spill on fisheries, the fishing industry and fishermen. It is the first of three studies. The next two, one on the economic impact of the oil and gas moratorium and another on damage to the Louisiana brand, will follow later this month and at the end of the year.
The current report focused on the impact of the oil spill on the availability of seven “economically significant” marine species including shrimp, crab and oysters, which together accounted for $273 million, or 98 percent, of Louisiana’s seafood in revenue in 2008, according to the study.
The report projected a $115 million to $172 million loss in gross revenue from 2011 to 2013 for commercial fisheries due to the spill based on the impact to those species. The projected loss does not include any possible long-term ecological effects or changes in demand for Gulf seafood, according to the study. The report also does not include impact to related industries such as seafood processing and recreation fishing.
The revenue losses translate into a job loss of 2,650 to 3,975 “full time equivalents” and an earnings loss of $68 million to $103 million.
However, the losses do not initially appear to be as great as feared because of the infusion of cash into the industry from BP, which is paying damage claims to fishermen and employing them in oil spill clean up efforts, the study’s authors said.
“The oil spill has yet to precipitate an urgency regarding the future,” the author’s wrote. “Fishermen will wait out the situation and try to find ways to return to their livelihoods when they can.”
But GNO Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Hecht said that outlook may change as time goes on and a more complete assessment of the fish loss is made and the BP programs come to an end.
“This study was fairly limited,” Hecht said. “But we wanted to start with an empirical and analytical basis so we can track over time from the starting point.”
Hecht said this study and the two in the works will be used, in part, to inform strategy and determine where GNO Inc. and perhaps other groups employ resources.
“We don’t know all the various ways this analysis will be used, but we do know that we need to be fact-based and effective,” Hecht said. “This is giving more substance to our efforts.”