The Louisiana coast is an incredibly productive ecosystem largely because of the extensive wetlands. Numerous species of fish, birds, and invertebrates use the coastal waters for a portion of their life history and some reside there for their entire life. The wetlands act as fishery nursery grounds, increasing productivity by providing foraging opportunities and protection from predation. The productivity of shrimp and blue crab, which support important commercial fisheries, is closely linked to the marsh.
The Louisiana commercial fishing industry is the most productive in the lower 48 states. The Gulf of Mexico (GoM) accounted for 18% of total US landings (by weight) and 16% of the total US landings revenue in 2009. Of that, Louisiana supplied 70% of the GoM landings and 45% of GoM revenue.
Louisiana’s coastal wetlands provide many other benefits than solely fishery production, including recreational uses and storm protection. Recreational fishing in Louisiana accounted for 4 million trips in 2009. Hurricane protection supplied by coastal wetlands alone has been estimated at over $23 billion dollars for the US. Additionally, Louisiana's 3 million acres of coastal wetlands provide habitat for over 5 million migratory waterfowl annually and also serve as a home to many endangered or threatened species.