The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to receive $2.56 million from BP to reimburse the agency for lost license sales related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill earlier this year, the agency reported today (Dec. 21).

The agreement was inked yesterday (Dec. 20), and makes up for the decline in recreational fishing license sales, associated federal fund and oyster tag sales, the LDWF announced. "This marks a critical step on the road to recovery for LDWF and Louisiana's fishing communities," LDWF Secretary Robert Barham said. "These funds are especially crucial now, more than ever, as our department continues to fulfill its mission while also working to help fishing communities rebound from the impact of the BP oil spill.

"We are open for business here in Louisiana. I encourage all anglers to visit us for some of the best fishing in the world."

The agreement with BP was finalized after discussions between BP officials, LDWF and representatives from the Louisiana Attorney General's office.

As a result of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began in April 2010 and significant fishing closures, LDWF suffered a loss of almost $1.7 million from a decline in recreational fishing license sales. The Department also saw a loss of nearly $450,000 in federal funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and more than $200,000 in revenue from a decline in oyster tag sales in 2010.

Historically, June through October is the high season for recreational fishing-license sales. These sales decreased from nearly $7.3 million in the period from April 21 through Nov. 30, 2009, to approximately $5.5 million in the same period in 2010– roughly a 24 percent decrease.

BP analyzed revenue from recreational fishing license and oyster tag sales in March and April of 2009 to determine a trend that was applied to projected sales in 2010. This figure demonstrated what revenues would have been but for the BP oil spill. BP officials then subtracted the actual revenue from the projected amount to determine lost revenue.
Officials with LDWF continue to work with BP on claims to fund an oyster cultch program and a saltwater hatchery.

The Department previously announced agreements with BP for a $13 million fisheries impact study and $18 million for seafood safety monitoring and testing, and $30 million for seafood safety marketing efforts.