The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has completed construction of four reefs located at Petit Pass, Karako Bay, Lake Machias, and Mozambique Point in Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes. Approximately 5,000 cubic yards of limestone was placed within each 10-acre site for a total of about 20,000 cubic yards of new oyster reef. During material deposition, emphasis was placed on creating off-bottom relief.
The four plots are protected from oyster harvest under LAC 76:VII.537. The four reef sites collectively account for only 40 of the more than 900,000 acres of public oyster harvest areas located east of the Mississippi River. The objective of the brood reefs is to establish protected oyster reef complexes that can help repopulate nearby public oyster harvest areas.
These projects were funded through Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (DWH NRDA) settlement dollars to help restore for injuries to oysters that occurred as a result of the spill. The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group approved 26 million dollars in oyster projects, including enhancing oyster recovery using brood reefs, cultch-plant oyster restoration, and hatchery-based oyster restoration. These four reefs are among the first projects included in the Department’s “Louisiana Oyster Management and Rehabilitation Strategic Plan” to be initiated. A copy of the plan can be viewed here:
In addition to providing important oyster benefits, the reefs will also provide valuable shelter and forage habitat for other estuarine animals, including finfish. As such, these reefs are open to recreational finfish anglers.
LDWF will monitor the performance of the reefs through regularly scheduled sampling events, and anticipates further enhancement of the reefs with hatchery-raised juvenile oysters as opportunities arise.