Protecting Coastal Louisiana’s Way of Life

By Domonique Tolliver.

Fishing is in Lance Nacio’s DNA. When his great-grandfather came to the U.S., he settled in a fishing community called Manilla Village and made a living working the waterways around the village.

While Lance Nacio’s father worked in the oil and gas industry, he also hunted and fished with his son, teaching him to live off of Louisiana’s natural resources, like crabs, shrimp, fish and oysters. Today, Nacio is the owner of Anna Marie Seafood, and he’s teaching his own son and nephew the tools passed down from his father. Nacio, who is part Native American and Filipino, has been a full-time shrimper since 1987, and his family captains the three boats of his business.

“A lot of fishermen on the coast are Native Americans,” Nacio says. “A lot of these fishermen who are on the coast have culture and history that ties them to their industries.”

Fishing and the seafood industry are closely tied to Louisiana identity, providing not only a livelihood but a cultural interconnection between those in coastal communities. But that culture and history are in danger as the effects of climate change threaten to swallow them whole.

Researchers and fishers like Nacio are working toward solutions to climate challenges while finding a way to adapt to climate change. Not only are they working to preserve the fisheries industry, but the culture and community that makes up their way of life.

“It’s not just the fishermen and their families themselves, but a lot of these small coastal communities throughout South Louisiana have a large part of their economy wrapped up in the fishing community. It’s a major blow to the whole community,” says Patrick Banks, assistant secretary at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.