BATON ROUGE A new oyster farming initiative has launched in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The goal of this effort, a collaboration between researchers from LSU and Auburn University, is industry adoption of off-bottom oyster culture to supplement the traditional harvest. Historically, oysters are grown on and harvested from reefs on the water bottom. In this new process, oysters are grown suspended in the water column.
Benefits of this new oyster farming technique include increased productivity; job creation; and continued production of a safe, sustainable domestic oyster supply, according to John Supan, Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter oyster specialist, and Bill Walton, Auburn University aquaculture and fisheries specialist. Off-bottom culture also protects oysters from predators, provides a means to reduce fouling, and allows complete harvests of planted oyster seed, a major advantage over traditional oyster harvesting.
"This could be an important addition to a traditional coastal industry," said Walton. "It's clean, green and energy efficient. And, it provides business opportunities to those already in the oyster industry as well as other coastal residents."
"Through proper planning, off-bottom culture can work in harmony with other water uses and users," added Supan. "It can support both part- and full-time incomes, just like natural fisheries but with greater control over the natural variability that dominates bottom harvesting."
Although this program was developed prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the oil spill prompted increased interest in oyster farming.
"We have received more calls and questions about oyster farming in the last four months than we have combined over the prior 12 months," said Walton. "The spill has created a window of opportunity where traditional oystermen are eager, even desperate, to find ways to get back to working on the water as soon as possible."
|Contact: Roy Kron|
Louisiana State University