“We went out this morning for about an hour … looked at the various businesses along the Intracoastal Waterway,” Dardenne said at a luncheon at the Petroleum Club of Morgan City hosted by the Port of Morgan City.
After lunch, Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, was going to tour the McDermott facility in Amelia, he said. “We’ve been real involved with them to make sure they get a major contract that’s going to be coming up with BP,” Dardenne said. “Hopefully, they’ll be in a position to be able to make sure they continue to do the great work they’re doing down here on the coast employing an awful lot of people.”
Dardenne had never seen Morgan City and Berwick from the perspective of the water and got to do so from a new Coast Guard vessel that was built in Jeanerette, he said.
U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representatives and Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff were among those guiding Dardenne through the tour, said Port of Morgan City Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir.
Mike Lowe of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers briefed Dardenne on the dredging work that’s being done in the Atchafalaya River and how the process works, Hoffpauir said.
“We just wanted to make him aware that we’re not dormant in this area, and we just made him aware of what all we have and what we can offer, what’s going on and what needs to be done in order to take that next step with the canal opening with us being a niche market,” Hoffpauir said.
Hoffpauir added that Dardenne also learned about some topics he was not familiar with.
“A lot of that stuff he really didn’t know. For instance, he didn’t know that the Atchafalaya (River) takes 30 percent of the Mississippi River’s flow along with 30 percent of the sediment too, so that’s the bad side to it,” Hoffpauir said.
Part of Dardenne’s visit was to see what tourist attractions the area has because that is a major part of his job as Lt. Gov., Dardenne said.
Ratcliff showed Dardenne the Berwick landing and the city’s plans to attract tourists, Hoffpauir said.
“I’m in charge of tourism, and the state parks and things that deal with recreational activities, so it’s important to see what’s going on in Berwick and in Morgan City to attract visitors. And there’s obviously a great deal in the recreational settings that people are interested in,” Dardenne said.
A major component to tourism in the area is recreational fishing, which has suffered in the aftermath of the 2010 BP oil spill and is still something Dardenne and those in his department are working on, he said. “Whatever we can do to encourage that (recreational fishing), no matter where it is, if it’s in Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard, heading over west into St. Martin and St. Mary. We want to try and get recreational fishermen from out of Louisiana into the state.”