In an earlier post it was noted that the oyster bays in Plaquemines Parish had two area with die offs. Today the State Wildlife and Fisheries Commission have closed off oyster harvests in that area.
To increase the number of oysters spawning on public water bottoms, Louisiana plans to forbid harvesting on four artificial reefs east of the Mississippi River in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. With support from the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries published the notice Thursday, giving the public opportunity to comment on restricted access on 40 acres of reef. The department manages 900,000 acres east of the Mississippi. “It will take up 0.004% of public seed grounds,” said Carolina Bourque, marine biologist for the department. “If those oysters in those reefs do spawn, they will provide resources for other reefs in those seed grounds,” Bourque said.nola.com
This closure is hope to spread the oysters and to replenish the stock which has reached new lows. Oysters from this area used to be the backbone of the Louisiana Oyster industry but now they provide only a small percentage of those harvested. Deepwater Horizon Settlement monies will be providing the $9.7 million dollars needed to create new brood reefs at Lake Machais, Mozambique Point, Petit Pass and Bay Boudreaux as well as other sites.
These reefs will also be among the first projects implemented in Louisiana’s draft Oyster Management and Rehabilitation Strategic Plan. Eventually, the state hopes to create a “spawning stock sanctuary network” that would maintain enough oysters to spawn and replenish its population. Goals include new reefs in Terrebonne, Iberia, Vermilion and Cameron parishes.
These reefs will also help build up the fishing industry as the fish can also use the reefs as a protected area. No oyster harvesting will be permitted but fishing will be.
The public may submit written comments on the proposed reef access rule through April 1 to Denise Kinsey, marine fisheries biologist, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge 70898, or firstname.lastname@example.org.