The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries recently completed two oyster rehabilitation projects, one within the public oyster seed grounds of Mississippi Sound and one within the public oyster seed grounds of California Bay, totaling $3.1 million in state and federal funds.
The state committed funds to these emergency restoration projects to aid in the recovery of areas affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, according to a LDWF news release.
This oyster reef rehabilitation process, known as cultch planting, provides clean, hard substrate for oyster larval attachment. By placing appropriate cultch material on the water bottoms during times of oyster reproduction, successful settlement of young oysters is enhanced.
The Mississippi Sound project site is located on approximately 300 acres of scattered shell bottoms just southwest of Halfmoon Island in St. Bernard Parish. It is in close proximity to a comparable project that occurred with great success in 2000 and in a location of documented use by the commercial oyster industry in years past for harvest.
The California Bay project is located in Plaquemines Parish on a 300-acre site west of Pelican Island.
The projects, which began in September, utilized more than 60,000 cubic yards of crushed concrete, limestone and oyster shells.
Biological monitoring of these projects is on-going to evaluate oyster recruitment and growth. LDWF biologists perform dredge and quadrat sampling of the cultch planting projects at specified times in an effort to gather information on oyster abundance, size and mortality. This information is crucial to determining the success of the project and informing efforts to open the area to commercial harvest in future years.