At the foot of the Mississippi’s 19,000-mile river system lie the six deep-water ports of southern Louisiana. These outlets to the world handle more than 450 million tons of cargo annually — much of it in exports from industry and agriculture throughout the nation. Continued wetlands loss will ultimately expose several of these ports to open water, rendering them vulnerable to severe damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. Losing these ports would paralyze not only Louisiana but also the rest of the nation.
Louisiana ranks first in the nation in total shipping tonnage, handling approximately 20% of the nation's waterborne commerce through its deep-draft ports of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, South Louisiana, Plaquemines Parish and St. Bernard. The ports between Baton Rouge and New Orleans are the largest by tonnage carried in the world and serve the entire eastern part of the country.
Louisiana's barrier islands and wetland shorelines protect navigation channels, anchorages and ports from winds, waves, storms and hurricanes. Without the protection of our rapidly eroding coastal wetlands and barrier islands, 155 miles of waterways will be exposed to open water in 50 years and billions of taxpayer dollars will have to be spent on increased dredging and maintenance costs.
The Mississippi River and its tributaries provide critical navigation access from the heartland to international markets through Louisiana's ports.