Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Economics

Document Type



Two severe Hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, caused devastating damages in the northern Gulf of Mexico during late summer and early fall 2005. Louisiana was the most heavily impacted state, where both storms made initial landfall. The storms caused billions of dollars in damages to public and private infrastructure, with particularly strong impacts to coastal fishing businesses. Numerous assessments of coastal fisheries infrastructure damage were developed by state and federal agencies following the storms. The range of estimates varied greatly (from $275 million to $3.5 billion), because of a wide range of methods and assumptions. This study describes two alternative damage assessment methods that utilize a combination of economic and biophysical data that can be used to produce rapid and geographically-specific estimates of commercial fisheries infrastructure damages. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS) framework, location data was geo-coded for more than 100,000 addresses of commercial seafood infrastructures in 22 coastal parishes. Economic damage curves for seafood infrastructures were then fit using a combination of primary and secondary data. These damage curves were related to each location using data on maximum storm surge height simulated by the ADCIRC model via the LSU Hurricane Center. The first damage model, a form of partial income capitalization, estimated total damages to commercial seafood infrastructures at $269 million. The second model, in which revenue losses are discounted over a five-year period, produces a total of damage estimate of $455 million. As suspected, of Plaquemines Parish received the highest overall economic damages, as this parish was contained a high concentration of fisheries infrastructure and was the initial point of landfall for hurricanes. Conversely, Cameron Parish, the initial point of landfall for Hurricane Rita, had only the 6th highest damages. This outcome reflects the ability of the models to account for the geographic concentration of fisheries infrastructure, as well as the trajectory and intensity of a particular storm. The results of these applications can be used to guide damage assessments through more strategic allocation of recovery funding for short and long-term objectives.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

• Rex H Caffey