Jeffrey Buchanan is the senior domestic policy advisor at Oxfam America. He is the author of a number of reports and commentaries on disaster resilience, coastal restoration, and domestic poverty. Prior to joining Oxfam, Jeffrey worked with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights on issues of recovery post-Hurricane Katrina and a range of global human rights issues.
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Bless These Shrimps: Faith, Fishing and Gulf Coast Restoration
Faith and fishing: two central parts of Louisiana’s vibrant coastal culture. Every April, going back generations, you can see them intersect in a celebration of bayou life at the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Chauvin, La. Families welcome the opening of the year’s first shrimp season by coming together to pray for family and friends who depend on the seafood industry, and for a healthy ecosystem that yields a bountiful catch.
“We pray for the safety and welfare of all fishermen,” said Fr. Frederic Brunet, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic church who has presided over the event for many years. “Bless the shrimp and crabs and help us to catch a lot of them.”
This year saw the second blessing since the BP Oil Spill shut down the Gulf fishing industry in 2010. Since then, many shrimpers have reported problems: poor catches and startling irregularities (such as shrimp with no eyes).