Tracking Hurricane Harvey's Toll: Gulf Coast's Multimillion-dollar Fishing Industry Struggles to Recover

Victoria Vo watched her father's calloused hands twist honeycombed wire into a commercial crab trap.With each strain of the pliers, Cong Tu Huynh's American tale grew fresh in her mind.How he left Vietnam at 18, seeing no future for himself in a Communist state. How he boarded a boat full of refugees bound for the U.S. How his boat survived the journey across the Atlantic and four others did not. How he spent the next four decades on the water, providing for his family by catching and selling crab in Galveston Bay.Now, the Yamaha motor on his battered teal work boat no longer sputters to life. Bright orange and white buoys lie in a tangled mess on his yard. More than 100 professionally made crab traps were swept away by Hurricane Harvey, with made landfall in South Texas on Aug. 25. With the bay closed, Huynh will struggle to repay the $945 he borrowed to make the repairs, and he has no idea where he will find $10,000 to replace the motor."It's hard to see my dad go through all this," Vo said, tears welling in her eyes. "He works so hard to take care of us."Harvey devastated not only Galveston Bay's marine life but also the tight-knit group of predominantly Vietnamese and Mexican immigrants who ply the normally bountiful waters for a living. It's grueling work that supports a multimillion-dollar seafood industry, puts food on tables and lets Huynh, 57, send his daughters to college.In a normal year, commercial fishing and seafood processing in the bay would account for more than $66 million in direct income. But this year, trillions of gallons of freshwater runoff pushed shrimp, fish and crab populations further out into the Gulf and wiped out the prolific local oyster crop.  Continue reading...

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