Bringing oysters back to the Gulf Coast

Seafood lovers rejoice! There might soon be more Mississippi oysters to go around thanks to funding from the BP oil spill.

Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United Executive Director Ryan Bradley said, “Mississippi’s coast down here in Biloxi and Pass Christian was built on the oyster industry, barrels and barrels of oysters were harvested every year and unfortunately we have had a down turn in our oyster industry in the last ten years.”

But that will soon change, hopefully. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality announced a Coast wide oyster shell recycling program. This project will work with restaurants to recycle any discarded oyster shells. “We have had a culmination of disasters from the oil spill, fresh water diversions from the Bonnet Carre Spillway, these different factors have plagued our oyster industry. Oyster shells are the preferred cultch material which is the material that oyster larva adheres too and by recycling these oyster shells we are able to take them and put them back out on the oyster reefs and provide the prime habitat for oyster restoration.”

And all of these tons and tons of oyster shells that you see behind me are doing great things for Mississippi’s marine environment just one of the shells can create over a dozen oysters which brings fish to the area which in turn is great for recreational and commercial fishermen. Half Shell Oyster House Area Director John Graham said, “It is a good feeling with everything going on in the world, trying to help out especially in Mississippi with the oyster reefs, to be able to get these oyster shells back out and rebuild the oyster farming here on the Coast, it’s a big deal, considering we need oysters. If we are going to sell that many we have to have them grow somewhere.”

As of now, many restaurants on the Coast are not able to use local oysters and have to source them from neighboring states. “We are pulling from Louisiana and Texas anytime we can get them. We have a couple of reputable sources that help us out, but if we could build back Mississippi it would be a huge thing to say we have Mississippi oysters.”

This project should be up and running by the end of 2019.

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