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Oyster Restoration

Ocean Trust and the National Fisheries Institute in conjunction with the NOAA Restoration Center is partnering with Bon Secour Fisheries Inc., the Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program to restore oyster reefs in Mobile Bay.

oyster deploying

Baby oysters (spat) are being grown in floating cages by volunteer oyster gardeners around the bay and by Auburn researchers. The oysters, now more than 2 inches, will be placed at a site prepared by Bon Secour Fisheries in Bon Secour Bay.

On Left: Bon Secour Fisheries Inc. deploys oyster shells for broodstock sanctuary.

broodstock oysters

The estimated 70,000 oysters will form the beginning of a broodstock reserve which will serve as source of oyster larvae to replenish reefs in the immediate area. The broodstock reserve will be established on newly planted shell and protected from harvest.

On Right: Oyster being grown by AUMERC for planting at broodstock sanctuary.

Oyster reefs are important habitat for crabs and fish as well as large number of smaller organisms. Oyster also filter large amounts of water and are thought to contribute to overall water quality in the Bay. Reefs in Bon Secour Bay have not been productive for a number of years and are not performing their ecological function at the level they might have in the past.

oysters in truckOngoing studies by Auburn researchers indicate that a low supply of new oyster larvae along with periodic low oxygen may be preventing the reefs from recovering.

With few live oysters left in the area, the oyster broodstock reserve will establish a large number of oysters in close proximity to each other. These oysters can be expected to spawn in the spring and fall of 2003 and the resulting larvae should settle on the shell provided by Bon Secour Fisheries as well as at other sites such as Fish River Reef and Shell Banks Reef where shell has been planted by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division. If environmental conditions are favorable oyster spat will become established and reefs will begin to recover.
Department of Fisheries & Allied Aquacultures
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