The first time I drove down the bayou from New Orleans a few years ago, I wasn’t prepared for how haunting it would be. I was headed down to Grand Isle, one of the southern most points in Louisiana, and my route took me along stretches of marsh that were dying. The trunks of dead trees rose like sign posts for saltwater intrusion, the slow creep of the Gulf of Mexico into what once was freshwater marsh.
That dead marsh was an indicator of one of the most troubling crises facing Louisiana today: the lost of coastal land to the Gulf of Mexico. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, we lost nearly 2,000 square miles of land between 1932 and 2000. If that’s creepy for those of us that live on land, it’s even more so for those who spend their time— and make their living— from the water. Not to mention the animal and plant life in the water, itself. The seafood industry in Louisiana has been slammed by crisis after crisis in the past decade, from Hurricane Katrina to the BP Oil Spill. Coastal land loss adds another ominous threat to a fisherman’s way of life.
In the new episode of Gravy, producer Laine Kaplan Levenson introduces us to fisherman Tony Goutierrez and his family, and tells us their story, and how they plan to keep living on the water, in spite of the challenges.