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Line in the Sand: At the height of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, sits on barriers keeping oil off the beaches of Grand Island, LA. Although his community was devastated by the disaster, Smith’s leadership established a better working relationship between the oil and Louisiana commercial fishing industries after the crisis.

At the height of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, sits on barriers keeping oil off the beaches of Grand Island, LA. Although his community was devastated by the disaster, Smith’s leadership established a better working relationship between the oil and Louisiana commercial fishing industries after the crisis.

Sharing Pain and Lessons Learned

Akio Ono, president of Ono Foods Co., Ltd., knows all too well about the kind of large-scale destruction inflicted on Louisiana and the Gulf Coast in recent years.

In 2011, his seafood plant in Kamaishi City sustained heavy damage from a tsunami caused by one of the most powerful earthquakes to ever hit Japan.

Photo of Japanese Seafood Executives

The head of a six-foot alligator sits on the desk of a meeting between Japanese business and economic leaders from the east coast of Japan that was desimated by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami. Photo: Ed Lallo/Louisiana Seafood News

With other Japanese leaders, Ono visited America to provide post-tsunami updates to U.S. agencies, and learn how similar disasters were handled here.

As part of an effort to revitalize the seafood industry and spur economic development of Kamaishi City, they came to Louisiana to get insight from the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

Before Katrina, market development and product promotion were the board’s two main missions. Afterward, communicating about the viability of Louisiana’s commercial seafood community became paramount, a problem now facing the Japanese seafood industry.

Hurricane Isaac03

No one was prepared for Hurricane Katrina, said Ewell Smith, the board’s executive director. Photo: NOAA

No one was prepared for Hurricane Katrina, said Ewell Smith, the board’s executive director.
Louisiana sustained more than a billion dollars in damage to its seafood community from the 2005 storm.

Smith walked the Japanese businessmen through the steps being taken today to rebuild the fishing community and the Louisiana seafood brand after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and Hurricane Isaac last year.

Afterward, Ono said: “Listening to your story has given us inspiration that we can do something more.”