Oyster cultch planting in Pass Marianne Reef

Cultch planting now for a better oyster season in the future. News 25’s Laurene Callander takes us out in the Mississippi Sound for a closer look at the DMR’s restoration program.
Rebuilding and revitalizing oyster reefs are well underway in the Mississippi Sound, as contractors spray limestone into the water, giving oysters a surface to latch on. Marine Fisheries Scientist Andrew Barrett said, “We’ve spent a lot of time determining where to put this material. We’ll mark off a polygon in a little square or triangle for the contractor to blow off into and I think we have five or six of them for this little operation for this phase.”
Oysters may settle quickly, but once they do it takes between two and a half to three years for them to be large enough to be harvested at market size. DMR officials tell News 25 this restoration effort comes during desperate times for South Mississippi. Marine Fisheries Scientist Charlie Robertson said, “Right now, we’re probably on the lowest periods on record as far as our oyster stock assessment for the public oyster reefs.”
During this second phase of the restoration, crews will plant about 160 acres of cultch material, totaling over 600 acres by the end of the year. Marine officials noticed a drop in active fishermen here on the Gulf Coast, but are hopeful this limestone will drive up business. “The fishermen, I think we’ve seen the fleet kind of dwindle a little bit because it’s really hard for them to make a living right now and so that’s why we’re trying to put a lot of focus on restoring these reefs. We want people to be able to make a living and we want to be able to have Mississippi oysters in these restaurants,” said Robertson.
Reefs in phase two of the program include Pass Christian, Henderson Point, Pass Marianne, and St. Joe.

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